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Wyalusing Fire Chief Praises Volunteers

 

By David Keeler

Next time someone tells you that volunteerism is a thing of the past, tell them to come to Wyalusing when there’s a community crisis unfolding.

Wyalusing Fire Chief Adam Dietz said the way the community stepped up during the recent flooding crisis was phenomenal.

Dietz said Thursday morning Wyalusing resident Gene Ann Woodruff stopped by the emergency shelter set up at the fire hall and said “What do you need?”

“She took off,” Dietz continued. “Now there’s Mary Skillings, John and Kelly Bradley, Priscilla Hanzok and others. These folks got a crew in here. I mean they called everybody they could think of.”

The result was that dozens of people donated time or prepared food and sent it to the fire hall. “The  number of people who are coming in here with food is unbelievable,” Dietz said.

Cargill donated meat, church groups sent volunteers. People brought in cereal for kids and pizza and chicken nuggets. Procter & Gamble donated a truckload of paper products, diapers and cleaning supplies for use by anyone displaced by the flood who needs them.

“Gene Ann and Mary Skillings took this thing on and just ran with it,” Dietz said. “What happened is just unreal. It really is.”

People who were forced by flooding to take refuge in the hall were watching a large screen TV that Jeannie Woodruff brought in. “She and her boys came in with this monster TV and set it up,” Dietz said.

Dietz said at one time there were between 50 and 60 people staying in the shelter, including some 27 residents of the Standing Stone area.

Lisa Eberlin did all the cooking on the first night the shelter was set up, Dietz said, and helped people settle in. “If it wasn’t for Lisa, they wouldn’t have had food last night,” he added. “She just came in and said ‘I’ll do it’ and she did it by herself.” Cots were provided by the Red Cross.

Food that was prepared for the weekend’s Wyalusing Wine Festival, which was canceled, was given to shelter residents instead.

Tanya Krewson was conducting a health program at Cargill that was canceled so she brought in toothbrushes and toothpaste for use by shelter residents.

“People brought in blankets and pillows and games for kids,” Dietz said. “It was unbelievable. People brought in fruit and vegetables. You name it and someone brought it in.”

Dietz said the support from the community mushroomed. “We went from trying to feed them ham and cheese sandwiches and chili last night to where right now they’re planning breakfast for tomorrow morning.”

Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Wendy Gaustad and others organized an effort to help clean up in the wake of the flood. Dozens of people showed up Friday. Up and down Route 6 volunteers were helping clean up after the flood.

It was an impressive sight from a remarkable little community where volunteerism is alive and well.

 


 Janet Otis, vice president of the Wyalusing Valley Volunteer Fire Department, sets up a sign Wednesday afternoon along Route 6 alerting travelers and local residents that shelter from the storm is available at the Wyalusing Fire Hall. At one point, the shelter was home to approximately 60 people. Photo by David Keeler  Janet Otis, vice president of the Wyalusing Valley Volunteer Fire Department, sets up a sign Wednesday afternoon along Route 6 alerting travelers and local residents that shelter from the storm is available at the Wyalusing Fire Hall. At one point, the shelter was home to approximately 60 people. Photo by David Keeler 

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