Nearly a month after Tropical Storm Irene ripped through the area—leaving large swaths of Mamaroneck Village underwater—25 families are still without a home.
According to Jeremy Ingpen, executive director for the , of the 25 displaced families, 10 are staying at WestHELP Homeless Facility in Greenburgh and the other 15 are doubling up with friends and relatives.
By Inpen’s estimation,“It is possible that there are five families or five individuals that do not have accommodation.”
Many of the families want to continue to stay in the area, he said, “because the kids are in school” and that “no one has an interest in moving away.”
The Mamaroneck School District has facilitated transportation for those who have had to relocate outside of the community, said Ingpen.
A total of 100-200 buildings in the VOM were severely impacted by flooding in the wake of Irene, said Ingpen, with 5-10 still without gas, although he declined to specify which ones.
“So there’s a large number of people who were affected and all of those people need to know they can file FEMA claims,” he said, referring to the federal management agency.
A multi-agency meeting that was held on Wednesday, Sept. 14 yielded the Mamaroneck Flood Relief Coalition, a temporary alliance that exemplifies an ongoing effort to coordinate village-wide efforts towards flood relief from Tropical Storm Irene.
“This [meeting] was the first time that the community had really heard clearly that FEMA was available,” Ingpen said. “So we set up a mechanism to coordinate that.”
People can call United Way 211 simply by dialing 2-1-1 from 8 a.m.-8 p.m. and say they want to establish a flood claim and from there will be instructed how to proceed. A full United Way guide with a list of agencies to contact and steps to follow can also be accessed by clicking to the right of this article. Other agencies offering assistance locally include the (CAP) Center or the Washingtonville Housing Alliance office located at 136 Library Ln. in Mamaroneck.
The new coalition—which will be meeting on a weekly basis—is based on a former committee developed to combat the flooding left by the 2007 Nor’easter.
Among those in attendance at the meeting were: Representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), United Way 211, the Mamaroneck CAP Center, Mamaroneck Village Manager Richard Slingerland, Assistant Village Manager Dan Sarnoff, a social worker for the Mamaroneck school system, Catholic Charities, Furniture Sharehouse, the Washingtonville Housing Alliance and the (HRC).
As a result of Irene, the HRC has been forced to temporarily relocate its social service staff to the Washingtonville Housing Alliance building and it’s Worker’s Center and administrative staff to the Guidance Center at 930 Mamaroneck Ave. due to severe flood damages.
HRC—a community-based organization formed in 1998 to respond to the needs of a growing Hispanic population—has been operating its social services department out of long-time ally the Washingtonville Housing Alliance.
“It’s a disaster,” said Zóe Colón, executive director of the HRC.
The entire HRC floor suffered extensive water damage from Irene.
“We had beautiful hardwood furniture that was donated by a board member that was probably worth more than $5,000 for the entire package,” Colón said. “That was all ruined.”
The HRC staff took advance precautions against the storm by sending computers home with an employee prior to the storm. But, all the wiring in the building has to be redone, said Colón. “We’re pretty much starting from scratch now,” she said.
After speaking with their landlord, HRC is tearing out 48 inches of sheet rock along the walls at the 2,700 square foot site and replacing all of the flooring.
“He [the landlord] said that the work would take about two weeks, but knowing how construction projects go, I’m guessing that we probably won’t have a home for another month,” Colón said.
While she couldn’t specify the damages in dollar amounts at the moment, she guessed somewhere in the proximity of $20,000.
Unfortunately, that’s not all plaguing the HRC at the moment; it’s had to suspend some of its services to the community as well including English as a Second Language (ESL) morning classes, a women’s support group slated to launch at the end of the month and a health fair planned for the community.
“The Mexican consulate was coming into town for a whole week in October; we had to cancel that as well,” Colón said, while stressing that many of these programs have merely been postponed until HRC is back in business.
HRC is also currently working with FEMA and Mamaroneck Village Manager Rich Slingerland to see if they can get a mobile unit for displaced members of the community to go through HRC or the CAP Center and apply for assistance that way rather than going to the Westchester County Center in White Plains, where community members have been directed to apply for FEMA.
Also, along with the newly formed Mamaroneck Flood Relief Coalition, the HRC plans to reach out to some of the local country clubs—now in the off-season—for temporary housing for flood victims. Several other locations were discussed in the Sept. 14 meeting—including Mamaroneck High School—however, were deemed to not work for a variety of reasons.
Anyone wishing to make a contribution to help displaced families can mail a check to the Hispanic Resource Center, PO Box 312, Mamaroneck, NY 10543. Please note if the donation is for office renovation or flood assistance for families. Those with questions about the HRC’s programs (ESL, computers, job training) should call Jirandy Martinez at 914-835-1512 between 9 a.m.-5 p.m. For hiring only, the Worker Center is still operating at 570 Van Ranst Place; please call (914) 630-7022 and speak to Marissa Senteno with questions.