Approximately 200 people attended the cookout put on by Keene Sept. 2 to thank volunteers who helped with the town’s clean up of storm damage.
The town put on a cookout Sept. 2 to show appreciation for all of the volunteers who helped with cleanup efforts in the wake of Tropical Storm Irene.
Approximately 200 people attended, according to town Supervisor Bill Ferebee. Keene’s game plan for the weekend was straightforward.
“We’re going to stay busy,” Ferebee said. “We’re going to continue to clean. We’re going to greatly appreciate all the help that we get. We’re going to move forward.”
Twenty National Guard troops were in Keene Sept. 2 and 60 more arrived Sept. 4, the supervisor said.
“Their focus is to clean up downed debris for private property owners, help clean out the rivers of the wood and trees,” Ferebee said.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s “Labor for Your Neighbor” program was initiated in the town Sept. 4.
“This is the governor’s issue,” Ferebee said. “He’s sending volunteers up here Sunday morning who are going to go to individual property owners and help them clean up their property.”
Town Councilmember Marcy Neville said the event was an opportunity for people to take a break from repairing the town.
“Everybody is pretty fried from shoveling mud and dealing with it all,” Neville said. “We have tremendous donations of food and we just decided to put on a cookout and give people a break.”
Neville encouraged residents who suffered damage from Tropical Storm Irene to fill out applications with the Federal Emergency Management Agency for individual and private enterprise assistance. Applications are available at the town hall and the hardware store in Keene Valley.
“It’s a relatively easy application to fill out,” Neville said. “You may be able to get money to pay for the damages that you’ve sustained.”
Neville was evacuated from her flooded home with the help of the state Department of Environmental Conservation during the storm.
“We got rescued by DEC who came in an airboat that died,” Neville said. “So we actually were rescued in a raft that they had and in my dingy. There were two of us and three dogs. I could not have gotten out without them. They really knew how to row against that current.”
Meredith Dembrosky, who works for the town of Keene in a variety of capacities, assisted in the cleanup of the storm.
“I helped clean out and take stuff out of the annex, which was demolished,” Dembrosky said, referring to the structure where the town code officer and assessors were located.
Dembrosky said it was somewhat relaxing to be at the cookout.
“You think more of it when you go home,” Dembrosky said, adding she had lived in town for 61 years. “This is the worst thing we’ve ever had.”
Still Dembrosky said the town pulled together.
“Our town, it got cleaned up fast,” Dembrosky said. “Everybody helped everybody and other towns helped us, too.”
Rob Hastings, the owner of Rivermede Farm, estimated that his business lost an estimated $20,000 worth of equipment alone in the storm.
“It’s like a bomb went off out there,” Hastings said.
Hastings said he was interested in National Guard soldiers helping out in the cleanup of the farm.
“If it’s a possibility we would be more than happy to put them to work,” Hastings said.