In the aftermath of Tropical Strom Irene, the region came together to help neighbors and family rise from the waters and build again.
With Hurricane Sandy looming, the North Country prepared for a storm. People purchased generators, batteries, stored safe drinking water and waited. Most awoke to electricity and a clear path to work or school in the morning, but on the same morning New Yorkers to the south were trapped, unable to use the public transportation they rely on. Traffic signals in Times Square were out and many lost their lives in the storm’s path.
By sending generators and able-bodied volunteers to the area, people began to show support in any way possible.
Local counties were prepared with emergency services on standby all night. Essex County was shut down and administrators were ready to call off school.
The members of the community learned a lot from Irene. In the aftermath of Irene we developed long term recovery agencies and organizations like Project Hope traveled throughout the area knocking on doors to help those in need.
In Vermont, the Disaster Relief Fund partnered with the “I am Vermont Strong” organization to create license plates that not only raised more than $600,000 for the victims of Tropical Storm Irene but also projected an outward bond amongst Vermonters.
“It showed solidarity throughout the state to see people with the plates on the front of their cars,” said Betsy Ide, executive director of the disaster relief fund.
Ide said that not everyone put the plates on their cars, but instead hung them on their walls to keep as a souvenir.
“People from out of state who couldn’t put the plates on their cars still bought them to show their support for other Vermonters,” Ide said. “That says a lot.”
The plates sell for $25 each, with $18 going to the relief fund, $2 going to the state food bank and $5 for production of the plates. The organization has sold 30,000 plates and generated $600,000 for the relief fund, which is still helping those affected by Irene in 2011 Ide said.
Could New Yorkers unite in an outward show of solidarity to help everyone still suffering from Sandy? New York sustained about 35 percent of the total insured losses in Hurricane Sandy’s path, according to Curt Heintzelman, senior account executive of EQECAT, a company that connects insurance and the financial services of its clients.
About 35 percent of the total insured losses for Sandy are expected to come from New York, with early damage reports indicating significant coastal flooding. Of the total losses for Sandy, about 85 percent of the losses are from New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
Disaster-modeling firm EQECAT Inc. said the insurance industry is likely to pay out $10 billion to $20 billion, while it said the total cost of the storm would be between $30 billion and $50 billion.
Ide said most of the boom of financial support came in the months following Irene.
Though Sandy has dissolved off the coast, New Yorkers can show an outward wave of support either by passing legislation to allow New York drivers to have a plate put on the front of their cars for two years or find another way to outwardly keep the momentum going to support our neighbors.
Just as Vermonters declared “I am Vermont Strong” with the sale of shirts, posters, license plates and other products, this could be a time for New York to find a similar way to not only help neighbors have a dry and safe home for the winter but to also show other states that New Yorkers are Empire State strong.
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