Born amidst the aftermath of Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, local charity New Paltz Flood Aid has helped to raise almost $60,000 for local farmers, emergency personnel and individuals. They started with concerts at Water Street Market and Hasbrouck Park in October. After that, the group pressed on getting donations online through PayPal and with small contributions from local grocery stores and even some school children.
“It was tremendous. We made almost $60,000 and the money’s still coming in,” Flood Aid volunteer KT Tobin said. “The people who were participants were thrilled. It was fun too. It brought the community together.”
As a group looking to help out where nature took a brutal swipe at New Paltz, Flood Aid enjoyed a lot of good will and popular support. However, the group has not done much to publicize who got what money and whether or not it had been distributed.
To date, their website includes a lot of information about the concert in October, but not a word about whether or not farmers got the money they were promised. In December, farmers who lost acres of crops contributing to their livelihood in August’s storm were just getting their money. Last week, roughly six months after the storm first hit, emergency workers had recently gotten their charity money, but individuals living in apartments or houses damaged by the storm had not received any money.
Many people locally have had questions about why the process took so long and whether or not it could have shook out any differently.
Part of the delay was bureaucratic. “We were not an established 501(c)3,” Tobin explained. Getting status as a nonprofit took some time, and delayed the distribution of the funds. “When you’re dealing with money, you have to make sure everything’s done properly.”
Tobin and the other Flood Aid organizer Theresa Fall both defended the work the group has done. With a concert in October serving as the main fundraiser, getting the money out took just more than three months. “In general if you think about it … we did pretty good.”
According to Kathy Cartagena, the director of Family of New Paltz, another hang up for individuals receiving help from the charity has been paperwork. Each person who has a damaged house or apartment had to fill out paperwork — they also needed an official referral from social services, the school district or a landlord to vouch that damage had actually occurred.
The majority of the individuals are from Town & Country. They just got completely flooded out,” Cartagena said.
Town & Country Condominiums is on Huguenot Street, just before the historic district, and is next to the Wallkill River. Many apartments on the complex’s western edge — especially the first-floor ones — saw water reaching up over their windowsills. Another area hard hit by the flood was the homes on Springtown Road. Springtown Road has always been a target for the floods, and 2011 was no different. People living in both areas have reached out to Family of New Paltz.
Cartagena said that many people in New Paltz who did experience flood damage were unaware of the Flood Aid money. For individuals, there’s still time to claim that money. “This is like last call,” she said.
People who would like to claim that aid money will have to fill out the aforementioned forms and get that referral from an official to vouch for the damage.
How the money was distributed
As of press time, Flood Aid had collected $57,223. Most of that money went to the eight farms wrecked in the storm. According to Tobin, the money for farmers was distributed depending on the number of acres they lost in the storm, the proportion of their total acres and if they had insurance or not. The farms that received help included: Old Ford Farm, $601; Huguenot Street Farm, $2,931; Apple Hill Farm, $3,508; Conuco Farm, $3,608; Dressel Farm, $3,668; Evolutionary Organics, $4,560; Taliaferro Farms, $4,824; and Bradley Farm, $5,412. According to Tobin, the Wallkill View Farm declined Flood Aid funds.
Family of New Paltz got the next largest amount of money, $19,678, the source of that funding being used to help individuals.
Each of the emergency responders — the last of whom were getting their money last week — all got the same amount. New Paltz Police Benevolent Association got $2,108. New Paltz Fire Company got $2,108. The Town of New Paltz Emergency Preparedness Committee got $2,108. New Paltz Rescue Squad got $2,108.
For more information on Family of New Paltz, or to call to seek help from flood damage, call 255-8801 or stop by at 51 North Chestnut Street in New Paltz. For more about Flood Aid, head to www.newpaltzfloodaid.org. ++