By Jen Flaster
Sept 8 – Today the Plymouth Emergency Management Team officially handed the reins back to the Town Selectboard in a meeting at the Municipal Meeting. Ralph Michaels, selectboard chair, thanked the emergency team for getting us through hard times. He also thanked Plymouth residents for volunteering and getting us as far as we’ve come to date.
Michaels reviewed the chain of events that led to the creation of the Emergency Management Team and detailed the Town’s response to Irene. On Sunday, August 28, after Irene arrived, the waters peaked about mid-day. By the end of the day the waters had receded. Larry Lynds took the town loader to Pingree Flats and to Frog City, clearing the way. Michaels drove up through a gravel pit road to establish temporary access through to Hawk and to Ludlow. By Monday, a passage was established – not a good one, but sufficient for emergency equipment.
Mike Lynds dug his way out of Grand View and Messer Hill with his loader and headed up to Lynds Hill. Michaels indicated he is still there on Lynds Hill working to secure the roads. The hope is that area will be done in a week or two.
Many smaller roads and dead end roads, like “Dead End Road” by Round Top and Frog City Road were passable by Monday or Tuesday. In general there has been tremendous progress on town roads, though it’s been slower progress on the state roads.
On Tuesday, August 30, Ralph Michaels and Sue Poirier contacted everyone they could – they reached out to other towns to find routes out of Plymouth besides through Ludlow. The full Emergency Management Team was established that same day.
In summary, Michaels said we are now officially moving to recovery mode. All of our town residents are now safe and have a place to live. The Emergency Management Team members will still help out, but the structure will be different. The Selectboard is returning to its role as a legislative body, overseeing finance, reconstruction of roads and acting as the point of contact with agencies. He said they are looking forward to getting the Municipal Building back to the way it was, so that our regular town business can be carried out again. The School Building will serve as the recovery assistance office.
The recovery assistance efforts will be coordinated by Jill Davies. The highway department will continue to rebuild roads, highways and bridges and Russ Tonkin, Town Health Officer, will continue to respond to health concerns. Seymour and Judy Cohen will act as Information Officers, to help direct residents to the correct town contact.
Michaels invited Jill Davies to speak about the structure of the recovery assistance process. The goal of the recovery assistance is to rebuild properties and lives and to identify help to meet the needs of Plymouth residents, including getting access to grants and other resources that might be available.
Davies spoke directly about the FEMA process:
#1 Residents must register with FEMA, if they experienced damage to house or driveway of a primary residence
#2 After registering, FEMA inspectors will come to view the damage
#3 After the inspection, FEMA will send a letter regarding any grant award for damages
#4 If no grant is received, residents should work with the Plymouth recovery assistance volunteers who are looking for additional resources that might be used to help Plymouth residents.
The recovery assistance effort will be a conduit for resources. Davies urged residents to talk to them before you spend a lot of time doing research about funding sources or other resources on your own – they are gathering the information for all of us to use.
The recovery assistance effort is also coordinating volunteers. If you have needs, they’ve got people who can help. Farm and Wilderness has offered its team to help work on your home or yard to clear out stuff and can bring in more people if necessary. Recovery volunteers are needed to help conduct internet searches for resources, staff the info desk at the school and work with people who come to the School for help.
The School will be open from 9-5 until this Sunday, Sept. 11. The new hours will be posted soon. Check www.PlymouthRecoveryNews.com for up-to-date information and forms. (Note: all Plymouth Recovery News info will also be reprinted in The Plymouth Press).
The recovery assistance group is also leading a fundraising campaign for the Plymouth Memory Tree recovery fund to provide direct assistance to Plymouth residents in need. Any volunteers who want to be on the fundraising team are welcome.
Michaels closed the meeting by announcing that the next town meeting will be on Saturday, Sept. 17 at 2PM at the Municipal Building.