SCHOHARIE, N.Y. – The Schoharie Fire Department is announcing a major milestone in Tropical Storm Irene recovery efforts one-and-a-half years after the storm devastated parts of Schoharie.
The Fire Department held a ribbon cutting ceremony Thursday to celebrate the completion of their new temporary pole barn facility which will house the department until the new fire station, which is currently being built, is completed.
“It took a lot. There were a lot of sad faces,” said Fire Chief Schoharie FD Marty Pierce. “We've still got a long way to go.”
As Fire Department members and local leaders cut the ribbon, it was a sign of some progress. The Schoharie Fire Department is currently receiving federal funding through a FEMA Public Assistance grant project to help relocate and rebuild the former fire station that was flooded with 8-feet of water during Tropical Storm Irene in August 2011.
This temporary facility will house the fire apparatus while the new fire station is being built.
“But here we are 15 months later. We're housing all of our apparatus in one location,” said Pierce.
Over the past 15 months Schoharie Fire Dept. trucks have been scattered.
“This is one small step for Niagara 6 but it's a giant leap for the community of Schoharie,” said John Borst, Schoharie Mayor.
But a long journey is still ahead for the department.
“We aren't celebrating just yet,” said John Wolfe, building Chairman Schoharie FD
As firefighters look over maps for a new firehouse a glimpse of full recovery is in sight.
“Being a relocation project through FEMA they will only replace the same amount of square footage that we had in the old building,” said Wolfe.
The rest of the funding for the new firehouse will come from donations, but those in Schoharie believe helping one another again is the easy part of the plan.
“Without everyone's combined efforts this village would be empty. There would be no life here,' said Assemblyman Pete Lopez.
The department does have an architect for the new firehouse but not a final cost estimate.
While the department continues along the road to recovery, residents of Schoharie are doing the same.
As Becky Coughtry flips through her photo album from 2011's flooding in Schoharie she remembers how hard it was to see her home under water.
“It was just unbelievably slick and filthy,” said Coughtry.
Coughtry is one of the many Schoharie County residents still picking up the pieces.
“Absolutely everything here is brand new,” said Coughtry.
But getting her brand new home required months of tearing out every belonging Coughtry owned and every piece of flood damaged wood — and a list of final repairs still remain.
“The people who worked with SALT were in the house working on the basement and there are some electrical things. There's some trim that needs to be finished,' said Coughtry.
Other residents also face a final list of repairs before they can return home.
Sot- Sarah Goodrich SALT
“50 to 60 percent are not finished,” said Sarah Goodrich of Schoharie Area Long Term Recovery.
Goodrich and the Schoharie Area Long Term Recovery is asking for more help from the community.
“We have about $10,000 – $12,000 to go, our goal is to get that by the beginning of March,” said Goodrich.
The SALT organization is looking for around $12,000 more to reach $250,000 that will be matched by a local business.