One of the groups that has taken the lead with flood recovery efforts in Bloomsburg is AGAPE. The organization is an on-going mission to serve people in need throughout the area. In the days that have followed the flood, they have been a clearinghouse for donations and volunteers, providing cleaning supplies, clothes, meals, and just about anything else that victims have needed. And those needs are not going away, but they are changing on a daily and weekly basis. To this point, over 3000 people have volunteered to help AGAPE in the flood recovery. They have also been in 473 homes and have had out of state groups helping in their effort.
According to Eileen Chapman, the Executive Director, “People have been wonderful.” She indicated that while volunteer projects had dwindled off lately, they are starting to gear up again. Assessment teams will be in Benton and Catawissa this weekend and volunteers will be needed to help in those independent assessments. In addition, a few mud out projects remain. And unfortunately, volunteers are needed to deal with a growing mold problem, a common issue after flooding. Rainy, damp weather has not been helping in that regard. Teams will be needed to help people with disinfecting and cleaning that mold.
Moving forward, Chapman feels that financial donations and volunteers will be the most important resources. As the rebuilding begins, teams will be needed to do drywall and other construction projects. According to Chapman though, “People shouldn’t rush to put drywall in. If you put it up when it’s still too wet, you will have mold and you will waste a lot of money.” She indicated that moisture meters are available for loan at AGAPE. In addition, AGAPE is looking for a storefront so they can begin to distribute used furniture and appliances.
When asked how residents were coping, Chapman said, “People are coming into reality a little more. Those who have lost everything were in shock. They are beginning to come out of it and are trying to move forward. They are also relieved that nothing seems to be getting any worse at this point. But in the end, people are resilient. They are reluctant to ask for help because so many are so much worse off than they are. But they need to just ask for help. We may not help that day, but they will definitely get a call that we are coming.”
To help AGAPE with financial donations, send checks to AGAPE, P.O. Box 424, Bloomsburg, PA 17815. To schedule in-kind donation pick-ups or drop-offs, call 570.317.2210. In addition, you can email AGAPE at info@AGAPElovefromabove.org.