With "Clean Up Day," Shumlin Urges Vermonters To Help

10/11/11 5:50PM By Bob Kinzel
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VPR/Bob Kinzel
Student volunteers in Richmond.
(Host) Governor Peter Shumlin is asking Vermonters to volunteer a day of their time to help communities recover from the damages caused by Tropical Storm Irene.

As VPRs Bob Kinzel reports, a special "Clean Up Day" website has been created to match the needs of towns with the skills of volunteers.

(Kinzel) This event is modeled after Vermont's "Green Up Day," an annual spring time activity launched by Governor Deane Davis in 1970.

Standing in a field in Richmond that was covered by almost 10 feet of water during the height of the flood, Shumlin outlined three goals that will be coordinated by a special website: vtcleanup.org.

He's seeking financial donations to the state's disaster relief fund, he's requesting furniture and clothing for families hit hard by Irene, and he's urging Vermonters to volunteer their time on Saturday, October 22nd.

VPR/Bob Kinzel
(Shumlin) "We need volunteers who don't have skills. We need volunteers who have skills. We need bulldozers and back hoes. We need chain saw operators, plumbers, electricians. We need Vermonters from all walks of life, giving a day of service to this great state."

(Kinzel) Sarah Waterman is one of the founders of VTResponse.com - an informational resource website that was created in the hours following Tropical Storm Irene.

(Waterman) "While there are some projects that volunteers can't do, there is so much that we can do and I encourage people of all skill levels to pitch in and help other neighbors. Standing here today, we will all tell you that although we've come a long way we have many miles to go before we sleep for winter. No project is too small or too large to matter, and there's a place for everyone."

(Kinzel) Chris Granda is a member of the Richmond select board. He says that while many of the obvious signs of flood damage are gone, some big problems remain.

(Granda) "There's sort of a hidden slow motion landslide of financial uncertainty questions about being able to have your home warm, have hot water in time for cold weather, and communities are still dealing with all that right now."

(Kinzel) Stephanie Douglas-Hughes owns one of the houses in Richmond that was heavily damaged.

(Hughes) "None of us have furnaces or hot water. We're still living in a camper. Our house has begun to rebuild which is wonderful but it will be awhile before we're in it and to have a family and we're all just feeling a little like we're just surviving at this point and not sure."

(Kinzel) David Coates is the chairperson of the Vermont Disaster Relief Fund. He says his top priority at this time is helping hundreds of mobile home owners deal with the immediate problem of disposing of any homes that have been declared to be uninhabitable.

For VPR News, I'm Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.


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