Community Crisis Network Looks to Help Victims of Landslide

While he has been able to find housing, he was among 27 people who were displaced by the landslide, according to the American Red Cross.

by Andrew Beam, The Daily Gazette, Schenectady, N.Y. / February 7, 2018

(TNS) - Reco Ross has not slept well since a landslide struck his apartment on Jan. 28, he said.

“I hear a noise, I pop up," Ross said on Tuesday, standing in his new apartment.

Ross was among those who lived in a building on Nott Terrace that was struck at about 1:15 a.m. by landslide debris. He said he made sure there were no hills near his new apartment before choosing to rent it.

While he has been able to find housing, he was among 27 people who were displaced by the landslide, according to the American Red Cross.

That's why the Community Crisis Network in Schenectady, N.Y., is looking to raise money to help victims find new places to live.

The network is comprised of Schenectady Inner City Mission and Schenectady Community Action Program. Naomi Wood, director of housing and community services with the Community Action Program, said her organization is helping approximately 10 of the landslide victims find housing, though that's just a start.

"Once they obtain housing, then they have other needs," Wood said.

Wood said the network is seeking additional donations to help fund new kitchenware, toiletries and household furnishings for the displaced residents' new homes.

The Community Action Program is also connecting victims with other organizations, to help meet needs the network can't accommodate, Wood said.

Rev. Phil Grigsby, executive director of Schenectady Inner City Mission, said he is working to get the word out in the faith community to help raise money. He also said the mission can help with any food needs from its food pantry.

He said the Community Crisis Network is meant to be a one-stop shop for people in emergency situations who need help but just don’t know where to go to get it.

“We want to be a place where we can get a comprehensive assessment of needs,” Grigsby said.

The area where the landslide occurred is still under a State of Emergency. But work to ensure the safety of the the hill was stopped on Tuesday due to snowfall expected on Wednesday, according to city Fire Chief Ray Senecal. Removal of the trees and other debris from the landslide has been completed, he said.

There were also soil boring tests done on Monday by GPI Engineering and Construction Services to evaluate sub-surface conditions of the hill, according to Senecal, who added that the cause of the landslide still hasn’t been determined.

Senecal said the cost of the work performed by GPI has also not been determined, as their work continues.

The city did hire Altamont-based Carver Companies to perform remediation of the slope for $94,500, according to Senecal. But when that work will begin was unclear as of Tuesday, Senecal said.

City emergency officials are scheduled to meet Friday to discuss what the next steps will be, Senecal said.

“We’re hoping the weather cooperates a little better than what was forecasted,” he said. “But we’re waiting to see what happens.”

The landslide crashed into the back of 223 Nott Terrace and sent three people living there, including Ross, to the hospital. In its wake, the city evacuated homes at 223, 213 and 225 Nott Terrace.

The slide also necessitated the demolition of homes at 11 and 15 Barney St., both of which were vacant, and a garage at 2 Daggett Terrace.

Wood said that, in addition to the network's efforts to find permanent housing for those displaced by the landslide, some of the landlords of the buildings that were evacuated have been helping their tenants find apartments.

Ross, who had been staying at the Days Inn on Nott Terrace since the slide, said two of his nephews, both of whom were also displaced by the slide, have a place to stay. His 19-year-old nephew, who was taken by medical helicopter to Albany Medical Center after being trapped in the home for nearly an hour by debris, will soon be coming to stay with him, he said.

Ross has not provided the names of his nephews publicly.

Schenectady Community Action Program spokesman Matt Stankus said anyone wishing to donate to help landslide victims recover can make a check out to SCAP/CCN and mail it to SCAP at 913 Albany St., Schenectady, NY 12307.

Stankus said that if there is money left over after settling all of the landslide victims, those funds will be used to help victims of future crisis situations.

“That’s the beauty of the Community Crisis Network,” Stankus said. “That unrestricted money is able to be used in many different ways to meet the needs of people in crisis.”


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