'I don't know if we're going back home': Volunteers turn out as the cleanup continues in Fort Plain


Recorder News Staff 


FORT PLAIN — More than 100 volunteers gathered in the village Saturday to help those affected by the June 28 flood, as residents continue to pick up the pieces and rebuild. 

Saturday was the first Rebuilding Day, sponsored by the Fulton-Montgomery County Long-Term Recovery Committee. Those who gave of their time to help others worked on about nine projects in the Fort  

Plain area, including muck-outs, demolition, mold remediation, wallboarding and plumbing. 

Volunteers met at Haslett Park early Saturday morning to check in and split into teams. 

Around 9:30 a.m., just after a sprinkle of rain, each group met with their team leader before moving onto a property to begin work. 

The Rev. Gail Adamoschek was not worried about the rain hindering progress. 

“People are predominately working inside the houses,” she said. 

Adamoschek said the goal for Saturday was “muck-out, gut-out": removing mud from basements and gutting first-floor interiors. 

According to Adamoscheck, there was a lot of first-floor damage on Abbott and Reid streets. 

Scott Wolfkiel, a resident of Reid Street, said this was the most water he has ever had in his house. 

“We always had water in the basement,” he said. “But this is pretty horrible.” 

In his kitchen, which was recently remodeled, brown water stains and mud could still be seen on the white walls as the smell of muck rose from the basement. 

The stained walls and mud-covered floors are constant reminders of mementos lost, especially for Wolfkiel, who grew up in the house. 

A team of seven volunteers was busy at work in his house, pulling apart walls, exposing the wooden beams. 

“I don’t know if we’re going back home,” said Wolfkiel, who is now living with his fiancee’s family. 

In some homes the water rose to almost 4 feet, causing black mold issues. 

Wolfkiel said the water was up to 6 inches in the basement and within one hour, between 5 and 6 a.m., the water filled the street and the first floor of his house. 

The raging water came up to Wolfkiel’s house with a force so strong it took out the entire back wall of his garage, which was built with cement blocks. In its place today is dried mud, a few broken cement blocks, and frustration. 

“At this point we’re going to get rid of the mud and the mold and take it from there,” he said. 

Although Wolfkiel doesn’t expect to see a penny from the government, he’s keeping a positive attitude. 

“We lost a lot, but not as much as others,” he said. 

According to Adamoschek, most of the people affected by the flood did not have flood insurance because it’s too expensive. This is one reason, she said, she was happy with the number of people who decided to volunteer. 

“We put out the word, but don’t know where volunteers are going to come from,” said Adamoschek. “But people hear there’s a problem and come from all over.” 

Marcy and Mike Roche are two volunteers from Rensselaer who were working with a team at Eric Walters’ house. 

Marcy Roche said she and her husband are a team and have spent the past few years helping people in flood-affected areas. 

“It’s so sad,” she said. “It’s so sad to see how long this is going to take to get back to normal.” 

She worked inside, in what use to be a dinning room, vigorously sweeping in an attempted to make it inhabitable while her husband helped muck the basement. 

The entire downstairs, what use to be the dinning room, living room and kitchen, is gutted. In this skeleton of rooms resides hope that, one day, it will be put back together. 

“We’re trying to get things cleaned up as much as possible,” Eric Walters said. 

He said it has been hard to find the time to work on the house while still holding down a job. There are only so many hours in the day. 

According to Walters, there was a foot and a half of water on the first floor. 

“In some spots, toward the back of the house, it was deeper,” he said. 

Unlike other flood victims, Walters' house is still inhabitable. He’s living on the second floor. 

Don Allard, one of the volunteers helping to muck out Walters' basement, said he saw the damage during the July 4 weekend. 

“There’s still a lot of work to be done,” he said. “I’m glad I came out.” 

One of the main concerns with the cleanup is the approaching winter. 

“Everybody is looking at how fast we can get the insulation installed to the keep the heat,” said Adamoschek. 

She also said there is a strong need for skilled workers, such as plumbers, electricians, people who can hang wallboard and lay flooring, who are willing to donate their time. 

This will help those in need stretch their money and use it for other necessities. 

“I’ve seen people for years stretch money during flooding,” said Adamoschek. “That’s why volunteer work makes such a big difference.” 

Local churches are collecting money and supplies, which will be used to help flood victims. People who would like to donate money or time are encouraged to come into the Fort Plain Volunteer Center, Wednesday through Saturday, 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., or call (518)705-8695.