(Host) Cities and towns hit hard by Tropical Storm Irene are scrambling to set up bank accounts to collect the financial support they’ve been receiving. As VPR’s Kirk Carapezza reports, one central Vermont community is finding a way to disperse the money more efficiently.
(Carapezza) Rochester is one of the thirteen communities that were completely cut off from the rest of the state in the storm’s aftermath.
A week after the storm, the town still only has one reliable access road in and out.
(Hauss) "We still only have one goat path."
(Host) Sandy Haas is the State Representative for the district that includes Rochester, Bethel and Pittsfield – all towns ripped apart by Irene.
Haas says that, in the interest of expediting relief efforts, Rochester town officials and business leaders have now decided to merge two funds.
The plan is to put Relief for Rochester Vermont and the Rebuild Rochester Foundation under one umbrella.
That will allow the town to more easily get money into people’s hands so they’re able to stay in their homes and buy locally.
(Haas) "The thing that we’ve been most eager about is to make sure that we had an account to receive the outpouring of support. When I finally I had power I had emails from friends all over the country saying, ‘What can we do? We want to give money.’ And so we quickly moved to make that as easy as possible."
(Host) Anne Mackay is a community organizer who runs an art gallery downtown.
Mackay says the merged fund should augment state and federal government support.
(Mackay) "It’s a sort of neighbor-to-neighbor kind of care package. What do you need right now? How can we help you so that you don’t go into any kind of financial collapse or feel the need to displace yourself?"
(Host) Like other communities hit hard by Irene, Mackay says Rochester is trying to raise enough money to make sure none of its 1,100 residents leave the town.
For VPR News, I’m Kirk Carapezza.