Local Town Gets Assistance From UAlbany Students

Published on Dec. 4, 2012

By. Casey So Hyeun Cho

Sangeeta Yadav, student and organizer of the trip takes down insulation and cleans up a Schoharie home Photo by Bridget O'Brien

Sangeeta Yadav, student and organizer of the trip takes down insulation and cleans up a Schoharie home
                                  Photo by Bridget O’Brien

On Dec. 1, more than 80 volunteers gathered in Collins Circle at 8:30 a.m. for the Schoharie clean up trip.

Schoharie, a town about 30 minutes from Albany was hit hard by Hurricane Irene last August and has still not fully recovered.

Many local organizations have come together to help Schoharie out and UAlbany is no different.

The motivations for all who volunteered varied but all came to reach out to Schoharie and its residents. Despite snow fall the night before, the volunteers managed to show up and the bus was filled up quickly.

“I was so inspired by the great amount of students who were willing to dedicate their Saturday to such a great cause,” said Sangeeta Yadav one of the students who contributed to organize the trip. “It was breathtaking of how many students attend.”

The Dec. 1 trip was the third one to Schoharie Area Long Term (SALT) recovery project. Director of Environment Sustainability MaryEllen Mallia said. The first trip yielded roughly 15 people, the second trip 25, and this time the number of volunteers increased significantly to more than 80.

Mallia, one of the sponsors who is originally from a town near Schoharie, said the Environment Sustainability reached out to Schoharie due to Hurricane Irene being a natural disaster occuring in such close proximity to Albany.

UAlbany Environment Sustainability was “hooked” to SALT Recovery project since Oct. 2011, she said.

The Volunteers first arrived at the Schoharie Recovery Volunteer Headquarters, located at 258 Main St. Schoharie. From there, the director of SALT Recovery Josh DeBartolo explained the aftermath of Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee in Schoharie and the progress of the recovery project.

When Hurricane Irene hit Schoharie, the water was one of the many challenges for the town to remove amongst other damages. Draining the water itself was crucial before any other relief work could occur.

“Over 2,000 houses were impacted and we are hoping that some of them will move in by Christmas this year,” according to DeBartolo.

The volunteers were divided into six groups that each group performing different tasks from painting to separating bricks, taking out debris off of basements and necessary demolition.

One group was sent to the Donation Center, located in Cobleskill about 20 minutes away from the Volunteer Center. The Donation Center was built in a warehouse and it was filled with donated items such as clothes, cups, books, furniture, Christmas lights, etc.

At the Donation Center, the volunteers helped sort out donated items on the shelves so that the victims of the hurricanes could pick up the items that they need more easily.

According to the Volunteer Donation Fund Coordinator Wendy Beuck, it only took four months to fill the warehouse. The donations came from various places such as schools, local motels and businesses.

The service trip was sponsored by UAlbany Green Scene and Department of Residential Life.