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Project Hope continues aid to local Irene victims for the long term

January 23, 2012 05:00 PM | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Project Hope program coordinator Michael Raphael in front of a house along the Sawkill Creek in the Town of Ulster. Many houses in the neighborhood, including this one, remain unoccupied in the wake of structural damage resulting from flooding during Hurricane Irene last August.
Project Hope program coordinator Michael Raphael in front of a house along the Sawkill Creek in the Town of Ulster. Many houses in the neighborhood, including this one, remain unoccupied in the wake of structural damage resulting from flooding during Hurricane Irene last August.
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When the rains came, and homes were lost, farms destroyed, infrastructure washed away, Project Hope hit the ground in Ulster and Delaware County, going door-to-door to offer free disaster recovery help.

According to program coordinator Michael Raphael, Project Hope is a project sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) that is “part of FEMA’s response to disaster areas.” To that end, after Tropical Storm Irene and subsequent rain events hit the region, Project Hope landed in Kingston, with 12 staff members including counselors, psychologists and caseworkers moving door-to-door in the most devastated areas -- and then to the “less” devastated areas -- in an attempt to reach everyone impacted by the flooding, rain and winds.

“There were 350 homes lost, or partially lost, in Ulster County alone,” said Raphael. “We first listened to their stories, ensured that they were connected with the services they needed and offered counseling, which we still do,” he explained, noting that he and his staff are still reaching out to people, offering services, encouraging people to let them assist in their long-term recovery. “There is a lot of empirical evidence that when there is a community-wide response to disaster -- not just in the short term, but in the long term -- and support is given and reactions normalized, that people cope much better.”

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