To the Valley News:
For the most part, Tropical Storm Irene spared the town of Essex, but not entirely.
After the storm passed, the rising waters of the Boquet River spilled over its banks in the Essex hamlet of Whallonsburg, filling up backyards, basements and the first floors of some homes. On midnight on Sunday, Aug. 28, the fire department woke up a number of residents warning them of the rising waters and helping them to evacuate. There was no time to move furniture to a higher level, or even remove valuables. These families are now trying to assess and recover from this disaster.
The community has pulled together and is responding to their needs. The Whallonsburg Civic Association hosted an Irene Relief benefit spaghetti dinner and square dance at The Whallonsburg Grange on Sept. 10. This event initially raised $3,000 and since then donations totaling over $9,000 have come through the door. This fund drive became a collaborative effort as donations from the Essex Community Fund, Essex Initiatives, St. John’s Church, Essex Community Church, and the Adirondack Community Trust were pooled with those of the Whallonsburg Civic Association. Funds are currently being dispersed to those families that suffered tremendous losses. The Town of Essex and its Fire Departments and road crew, volunteers and AuSable Valley Habitat for Humanity are helping residents with ongoing cleanup and restoration work.
Mary Burke, Whallonsburg Civic Association, Essex