Hurricane Irene tore its way up the East Coast in late August, ravaging local communities in its wake. The Hudson Valley was hit extremely hard by Irene, and many towns, local farms, and individuals’ lives were devastated. The region’s citizens are gathering and offering their help to those who need it most.
Ulster County was ravished by flood waters. As creeks, lakes and rivers crested, many homes, roads, buildings and crops were wiped out. Margaretville, Prattsville and Phoenicia NY were leveled by the hurricane, while local farms in New Paltz had just about everything taken from them.
I was caught off-guard by the videos being posted by my Facebook acquaintances, like Burr Hubbell, who is an avid advocate for working-class issues and has been instrumental in spreading the word on what the scope of the damage really is in light of the cold shoulder that mainstream media has given to the plight of the residents in the Catskill Mountains.
I started to see homes being washed down the street, roads torn apart and crumbling downstream, as well as the public access news report on Taliaferro Farms in New Paltz under some million gallons of water. I knew Pete Taliaferro from interviewing him previously, and when I saw that report I could see the look of devastation, and the reporter’s closing words to come together as a community and help the farmers that feed us sounded off a bell.
Immediately I thought, “Let’s organize a fundraiser.” I know a lot of people in New Paltz who would be ready to help out in any way they could. As it turns out, I was right. My musician friends offered to play for free and support us in putting out the word; local residents were ready for the call.
I got together with Theresa Fall and KT Tobin of New Paltz to begin organizing the event, which we are calling “New Paltz Flood Aid: Farmers, Families, and First Responders.” Our goal is to raise money for those affected by the floods caused by Hurricane Irene. We are suggesting a $20 donation per person. The other way people can help is to volunteer their time on affected farms, or for families who need to gut their homes. People can volunteer a 4-hour or 8-hour work day to assist with cleanup. This along with a $20 donation would be very generous and much appreciated by all who are in need.
The first event is a kickoff for the fundraising on Sunday, October 2 from 4 – 9 p.m. at the Water Street Market off of Main Street in New Paltz; there will be a larger event 2 weeks later in Hasbrouck Park on Sunday, October 16, from 12 noon to 6 p.m. The kickoff event will have 6 local bands playing, and a potluck dinner is planned so everyone can share a true sense of community by preparing something they love to eat and feeding their neighbors. Although it is yet to be confirmed, I believe we will have a raffle as well.
Again, the initial event will be located at the Water Street Market off of Main Street in New Paltz on Sunday, October 2 from 4 – 9 p.m. Please come out and support us!