Can we be Empire State strong?


In the aftermath of Tropical Strom Irene, the region came together to help neighbors and family rise from the waters and build again.

With Hurricane Sandy looming, the North Country prepared for a storm. People purchased generators, batteries, stored safe drinking water and waited. Most awoke to electricity and a clear path to work or school in the morning, but on the same morning New Yorkers to the south were trapped, unable to use the public transportation they rely on. Traffic signals in Times Square were out and many lost their lives in the storm’s path.

By sending generators and able-bodied volunteers to the area, people began to show support in any way possible.

Local counties were prepared with emergency services on standby all night. Essex County was shut down and administrators were ready to call off school.

The members of the community learned a lot from Irene. In the aftermath of Irene we developed long term recovery agencies and organizations like Project Hope traveled throughout the area knocking on doors to help those in need.

In Vermont, the Disaster Relief Fund partnered with the “I am Vermont Strong” organization to create license plates that not only raised more than $600,000 for the victims of Tropical Storm Irene but also projected an outward bond amongst Vermonters.

“It showed solidarity throughout the state to see people with the plates on the front of their cars,” said Betsy Ide, executive director of the disaster relief fund.

Ide said that not everyone put the plates on their cars, but instead hung them on their walls to keep as a souvenir.

“People from out of state who couldn’t put the plates on their cars still bought them to show their support for other Vermonters,” Ide said. “That says a lot.”

The plates sell for $25 each, with $18 going to the relief fund, $2 going to the state food bank and $5 for production of the plates. The organization has sold 30,000 plates and generated $600,000 for the relief fund, which is still helping those affected by Irene in 2011 Ide said.

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