• After Irene, ReBuild Waterbury finishes its work
     | January 24,2013

    Submitted Photo Volunteers with ReBuild Waterbury work at an Irene-damaged home at Moody Court, near the Amtrak train station, last summer. The organization, along with a paid contractor it hired, raised the home to replace its foundation.

    WATERBURY — ReBuild Waterbury, an organization that helped direct money and volunteer workers after Tropical Storm Irene to some 50 properties in the Waterbury area for reconstruction work, has declared its recovery efforts are essentially complete.

    The organization will stop using its office space in St. Leo’s Hall on South Main Street by the end of this month, and the group will finish up remaining invoices working from home, volunteers said.

    The organization is one of nine long-term recovery groups in the state, and the Waterbury group is the first to indicate its outreach is finished, the state’s Irene recovery officer, Dave Rapaport, said Wednesday.

    “It’s terrific they finished up, and it’s a testament to the dedication of that group and the care of that community,” Rapaport said.

    Across the state, the Federal Emergency Management Agency awarded 5,163 grants to residential households. Awards capped out at $33,200, but not all of the damage was eligible for aid.

    After Tropical Storm Irene damaged an estimated 200 properties or more in the Waterbury area, ReBuild Waterbury quickly assembled with a mission to fill needs unmet by private insurance and FEMA. As of last week, the organization had assisted 104 households, many by simply helping them navigate the maze of federal resources or other assistance available to them.

    To provide supplemental assistance, the organization pooled money raised privately with aid from the Vermont Disaster Relief Fund, coordinated the labor force that worked on construction projects, and billed out construction costs.

    Money came from several sources, ranging from philanthropic and religious organizations to the Stiller Family Foundation — created by Green Mountain Coffee Roasters founder Bob Stiller. ReBuild Waterbury’s efforts also received some support from Burlington businessman and philanthropist Tony Pomerleau’s $1 million donation for Irene relief efforts throughout Vermont.

    Mame McKee, who served as a volunteer coordinator and case manager, said one of the biggest awards she announced a family would receive was for $27,000. Some families broke down crying, and sometimes others just smiled and said thank you, only to return to the ReBuild Waterbury office to say they still couldn’t believe the support that was given, McKee said.

    “The quality of the work was really one of the ways we could show how much their community could care,” she said.

    ReBuild Waterbury hired a full-time general contractor, David Kerr, in addition to other staff to help accomplish its work. Reconstruction projects often used volunteer help, subcontractors and youth construction groups from Barre and Burlington, as well as temporary workers through the Labor Department.

    The group helped tear down one mobile home on Route 2 so it could be replaced by another unit with some of the Pomerleau money. Another major project involved completely remodeling a home on Union Street, replacing wallboard and flooring and overhauling a kitchen. One home on Moody Court was washed off its foundation, so the group raised the structure to replace the foundation.

    ReBuild Waterbury Chairwoman Theresa Wood credited the organization’s efforts for restoring the Patterson mobile home park on Main Street in Duxbury, which she said reopened about a month ago.

    To celebrate the completion of ReBuild Waterbury’s work, a free lasagna dinner and community celebration will be held at 4:30 p.m. Saturday in the cafeteria of the Crossett Brook Middle School in Duxbury. The event is for project recipients, volunteers, donors and supporters. Call ReBuild Waterbury at 839-6000 or email katieladams@hotmail.com to RSVP so organizers can plan on how many people will be at the event.

    david.taube @timesargus.com

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