From the North Adams Transcript

Wednesday May 23, 2012

Girls in Girl Scout Daisy Troop 11341, of Williamstown, plant flowers at The Spruces in Williamstown on Monday afternoon as part of a service project badge. From left, Erika Bolton, 7, Lucy Igoe, 7, and Jullie Gill. The flowers were provided by the troop, and the soil was donated by Countryside Landscaping. (Gillian Jones/North Adams Transcript)

Springfield Bishop Keeps Disaster Relief on the Radar

A recent article in the Berkshire Eagle covered remarks given by Springfield Bishop Timothy A. McDonnell about the continuing need to support the victims of Hurricane Irene.

McDonnell spoke at St. Joseph’s Parish Center on North Street where he acknowledged the difficulties for many families in Western Massachusetts in 2012 while praising the generosity and response of the community as a whole.

“The needs seem to be growing instead of declining,” said McDonnell.

Despite the demands, he said donors rose to the challenge and McDonnell called it the “miracle of the year that was so terrible otherwise.”

Specifically mentioned was the work of Higher Ground; Robin Lenz was present to talk about the effect donations from Catholic Charities have had on her efforts.

Representatives from Williamstown groups who assisted Irene victims were also on hand, saying the donations were beneficial to their efforts and came at a time when people were running out of options.

A total of 225 homes in a Williamstown mobile home park had to be abandoned when Irene hit last August, according to Robin Lenz of Higher Ground, a group formed in the wake of the storm. To date, only 66 homes have been cleared for occupancy and 153 will never be occupied again.

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Rev. Don Remick, co-chair of the Disaster Resource Team of the MA Conference for the United Church of Christ, mentioned Higher Ground in a recent article. “Disaster Recovery: The Unprecedented Year Continues” discussed the difficulties of sustained disaster recovery, reminding us that “Disaster recovery is a marathon, not a sprint. And it will still be a long time before folks discover a new normal: a new way of stable living.”

Rev. Remick mentions Higher Ground as an example of the faith-based effort to find this “new normal,” and writes:

One example of [faith-based initiatives] is in Williamstown. Following the flooding rains of Hurricane Irene, one whole mobile home park was left uninhabitable. Over 200 families were displaced. Only half of them have been allowed back. The rest will not be. The church formed a Long Term Recovery Group consisting of local leaders, federal and state guidance and non profit assistance. Led by our Rev. Carrie Bail, this group is ensuring that the most vulnerable of populations is not left unseen as life moves on for everyone else.