Donations to the Mad River Valley Community Fund (MRVCF) to help flood victims continue to pour in – and short-term emergency grants of $1,000 are available to flood victims now.
After Hurricane Irene flooded The Valley and Vermont, MRVCF re-opened the Flood Fund it created during the Flood of 1998. Since then, that fund has received 640 donations that range from $5 to $100,000.
“The need is great,” said fund spokesperson Mark Grosby.
“I know of 50 houses in Moretown with significant damage, and six in Waitsfield and at least one on Shephard’s Brook in Fayston, plus one in Warren. That does not include the businesses and farms. We know how bad the damage is and we know we’re not going to be able to make everyone whole after this, but we’re going to do our best,” he added.
Valley residents with immediate significant needs due to damage from Hurricane Irene and no other means of financial support are encouraged to contact the community fund for hurricane emergency grants of up to $1,000.
Those grants are a first-round stop gap measure. The fund will be offering low-interest loans and other grants in the coming weeks.
“What we learned after the Flood of 1998 is that if we give grants before people have gone through the FEMA process, our grant amounts were deducted from their FEMA awards. We don’t want that to happen,” Grosby explained.
The no-interest loan fund is a new and interim form of relief created by the board of the community fund in response to this disaster. The board is working to create the application and rules for eligibility and that should be available shortly.
The community fund itself has been overwhelmed by the need and by the outpouring of support from near and far.
“We’re a volunteer organization and we’re working as hard as we can to get relief to the people who need it. We’ve hired an administrator to work full time to help us during this process,” Grosby said.
He said the board has been heartened by the response from near and far. He said that $6,700 was donated at Waitsfield’s Bridge Street block party last Saturday and another $8,400 was donated at the Waitsfield Farmers’ Market that same day. The fund received $2,200 from the sale of flood relief T-shirts donated by a local business.
At a coin drop for flood relief in Moretown Village, a check for $2,000 was dropped off.
“Valley second-home owners have been very generous to us for many years and are doing the same this time,” Grosby noted.
The MRVCF is also working to organize two social workers to help advocate for flood victims and to help them sort through the state, federal and local aid processes.
The emergency grants are available to residents, business owners, or those with a significant local connection to Fayston, Moretown, Warren or Waitsfield. Employees of Mad River Valley businesses living outside the immediate area are also eligible.
For those needing assistance greater than $1,000, additional grants and no-interest loans will also be available. The emergency grants are the first step in a larger MRVCF flood relief fund-raising effort. Contact the fund directly for more information.
“The goal here is to get the area back on its feet, to get people clothed and fed and to start the long process of rebuilding,” said Grosby.
The Hurricane Emergency Grants do not need to be repaid, thanks to the generosity of those who have contributed to the Community Fund. But in order to help those in need, ongoing contributions to the Fund are strongly needed.
A 501 (c3) nonprofit organization, the Mad River Valley Community Fund was established in 1989 to respond to the specific needs of Mad River Valley residents.
Donations are being accepted through the mail at P.O. Box 353, Waitsfield, VT 05673; online via PayPal through the mrvcommunityfund.org website; or by calling (802) 496-3638 to set up a payment.
“Please donate to the fund if you can,” added Grosby. “We need to keep this fund growing in order to help all those in need.”