Plans also underway to assess local business needs and develop a long term business assistance fund
The MARK Project will accept applications for flood relief for both individuals and families starting this Thursday, Sept. 15. The local community revitalization organization has been running full bore since disastrous flooding struck Arkville, Fleischmanns, Margaretville and other local hamlets on August 28 and it now has several avenues of help available. Learn more by calling 845 586-3500 or check on-line at www.markproject.org. (You can also download the application from a link at the bottom of this page.)
“Already three spontaneous fundraisers organized by Arkville Bread & Breakfast, Casey Joe’s and Public Restaurant have raised thousands of dollars for MARK’s Flood Relief and Emergency Assistance Fund, and organizations such as Long Year Gallery and the Artisans Guild are in process of raising additional funds. These events have been well supported while also raising awareness of the enormity of the challenge we face,” said MARK’s Executive Director Peg Ellsworth.,
“I’m overwhelmed by the outpouring of assistance and sweat equity,” Ellsworth added, “Much of which extends far beyond our communities and into the canyons of Manhattan, the vintage base ball clubs of the Northeast, our friends in the North Country, New Jersey and Long Island. said Ellsworth. “We are blessed with so many unsung heroes in this flood recovery, those with us here at home and those far and away that we’ll never know.”
Ellsworth also gave a special nod to Belleayre Mountain, whose lodge served as an emergency shelter and the Belleayre Conservatory which turned its Sept. 3 Bela Fleck concert into a flood relief fundraiser. “As Joe Kelly wisely noted, so often we are trying to save Belleayre Mountain, and these past two weeks, Belleayre Mountain has saved us. We commend them, and also the devastated Freshtown supermarket. They have promised to rebuild this core community business and are keeping all their workers ‘on the payroll’ while they rebuild,” said Ellsworth.
But What about business relief? While the presence of FEMA and the MARK Project’s Emergency Assistance Program may give hope to families and even farms, many business owners are uncertain what aid may be available to them, if any. “We are in process of developing a business assistance program that will likely come in the form of a comprehensive grant and loan funding package and hopefully an injection of state funding for emergency capital projects and stabilization” adds Ellsworth. “We are also aiming to make this Small Business Development Fund a long term support mechanism that will continue to assist and nurture local businesses long after the cellars are dry and the “open” flags are re-hung.”
As MARK moves this program forward they will be reaching out to local merchants associations, business owners and the Central Catskills Chamber to gauge the immediate needs versus short and long term goals and objectives of each business community affected in our area: Margaretville, Arkville and Fleischmanns.” This will likely begin with a needs assessment survey or pre-application that will be offered in both paper and on-line format.
“This Business Development Fund and concurrent programs will provide the necessary relief process that we hope will serve immediate economic recovery needs, and also be a model for future disaster relief and long-term economic sustainability for our area, ” adds Ellsworth. Although the need is great and time is of the essence, it is also very important that the program be structured and ready to launch. “It would be irresponsible of MARK to put out a program before a definite process is in place.” said Ellsworth “The MARK Board and the external development committee has been working hard to ensure the program can be effectively administrated and monitored prior to launch.”
While communities to the north, like Prattsville and Gilboa, do not lie within MARK Project’s purview, Ellsworth says MARK can still provide information and help guide folks to resources in those towns.
“We encourage all businesses damaged by the flood to apply to FEMA; you may not qualify, but that puts you in the conduit for future Small Business Association relief programs, or USDA renewal initiatives. Start with FEMA, so your losses and needs can be documented and that way, you’ll be on the radar for any future investment and relief programs, ” said Ellsworth.
“We should all be encouraged that, even though this flood was even more damaging than the January 1996 flood, the determination to regroup and rebuild is even stronger, ” said Ellsworth. “This may be the hard beginning of a real community renewal.” Call 845 585-3500 or visit www.markproject.org to learn more.