Prattsville Rebuilding Project Expands to Schoharie, N.Y.

Photo by M. Wilson
Brethren Disaster Ministries works on a house in Prattsville, N.Y.

A Brethren Disaster Ministries home rebuilding and repair project in Prattsville, N.Y., is expanding into a nearby location, the town of Schoharie. Brethren Disaster Ministries is supported through giving to the denomination’s Emergency Disaster Fund. A second allocation of $30,000 was recently made to continue the project in Prattsville and Schoharie.

The New York State project was established in response to the flooding of homes by Hurricane Irene in August 2011. The storm brought high winds and up to 10 inches of rain, causing flash floods in mountainous areas and major flooding along rivers and streams. Parts of eastern New York were hit hard, among them the small town of Prattsville. The community of about 650 people lies along Schoharie Creek in Greene County in the Catskill Mountains, and suffered its worst flash flood in memory. In one of the lowest income regions of the state, nearly 300 homes were covered by floodwater when the creek rose over 15 feet in less than 12 hours. Many affected residents are uninsured or elderly.

Brethren Disaster Ministries has been repairing and rebuilding homes in the Prattsville area since July last year. To date, more than 250 volunteers have provided over 2,000 days of labor to rebuild 7 homes.

The creek also flooded Schoharie, about 35 miles north and down stream from Prattsville. A local organization named SALT requested the assistance of Brethren Disaster Ministries to rebuild, after they became familiar with the work being done in Prattsville by the Brethren.

BDM associate director Zach Wolgemuth met with SALT leadership some weeks ago and agreed to begin repair and rebuilding work in Schoharie as the caseload in Prattsville begins to diminish.

On Feb. 5, Wolgemuth visited the new Schoharie site with David L. Myers, director of the Department of Homeland Security’s Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships and an ordained minister in the Mennonite Church. They spent the day discussing the Brethren operation and met with local partners including the newest, SALT, which invited media to the event. Also present was a representative of Lutheran Disaster Relief, Joseph Chu.

“SALT’s board of directors got a morale boost Tuesday after hearing words of praise–and thanks–from national disaster response leaders,” reported the “Daily Gazette.” “Recovery efforts in the Schoharie Creek Basin have drawn national attention due to the uniqueness of our model and the breadth and pace of accomplishments. The presence of these visitors highlights the significance of the work that is being achieved by SALT and partner agencies, and has ramifications for the potential replication of our recovery model in other regions impacted by disaster.” Read the article at .