March 31, 2012

Helping Schoharie

Continuing efforts to rebuild Schoharie following Hurricane Irene

Schodack Valley Fire Department held a fund-raising PIZZA Night to help raise money for the Schoharie Fire Department rebuild after the devastating effects of Hurricane Irene. Currently they run out of temporary quarters on the north end of town. Although they are still providing coverage for the town, they have no fire house in which to keep equipment.

"We lost our whole station," said Schoharie Fire Chief Marty Pierce.  The Schodack Valley volunteer Fire Department called offering a benefit so Pierce figured he'd get a few guys to come up and introduce themselves.

 "They gave a whole new meaning to brotherhood tonight," he said.

The Schoharie Fire Department provides fire protection and rescue services to a historic, rural village in upstate New York, approximately 40 miles southwest of Albany and 150 miles north of New York City.

According to a letter posted on the National Volunteer Fire Council, by Marty Pierce, Chief and John Borst III, 1st Lieutenant, "Roughly 80 percent of all structures in just the Village of Schoharie alone were damaged, mostly by muddy and contaminated waters that flooded basements, rose 4 to 8 feet up the walls of their first floors, and left behind a residue prone to mildew. Roads were wiped out, phone lines and communication systems were disabled, commerce was adversely affected, and transportation became nearly impossible. We watched as dirty water collapsed the foundations and consumed the houses of many friends and fellow fire department members.

With more than eight feet of water in our fire station, we lost all of our fundraising equipment, many current and historical records, some gear and equipment, and have since taken refuge in an old, cramped, tractor repair shop not nearly big enough to house all of our apparatus. At this point in time, it is likely that our fire station is totally unsalvageable and that we have to look at purchasing land for a new station. Complicating our situation, we just discovered that the pump of one of our two primary attack engines, a 1984 Pierce Dash, has failed its pump test and the repair costs could be upwards of $30,000.

All in all, the financial recovery of our fire company (and consequently the public we protect and the neighboring fire departments for which we provide mutual aid) will take years. Seeking local funding is simply not feasible for us given our current situation. It would require tax increases that none of our elected officials can approve in the current state of our economy. Likewise, conducting our annual fund drive would be both inappropriate and unsuccessful. With that being said, we are turning towards our brother and sister firefighters nationwide, seeking “mutual aid” in the form of charitable contributions. We are well aware of the hardships that all fire departments are facing today, but we are hopeful that perhaps other departments, in better situations than ourselves, might be charitable, and willing and able to steer aid in our direction."

The residents of Schodack packed the Schodack Valley Fire House on Schodack Valley Road.  At about 7:00 p.m., they ran out of wings - a popular menu item, and had to purchase more from Samson's to fill orders. All toled 252 pizzas and 9 cases of wings were served.

The truck bays were converted to a massive dining hall where dinners were delivered for the overflow crowd. 

Repairs and re-building in Schoharie are moving very slowly, said Chief Pierce, "But under the circumstances, morale in the fire house is up, and that's a good thing."

Donations to the Schoharie Fire Department can be mailed to:
Schoharie Fire Department
P.O. Box 428
Schoharie, NY  12157

See photos from the event in the left side bar on the home page.

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