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Little help

  • Matt Bahrey, 20, works to clear sections of a cut tree that had fallen on their home. The family of six can't afford to repair the damages.
    Matt Bahrey, 20, works to clear sections of a cut tree that had fallen on their home. The family of six can't afford to repair the damages.
Published November 14. 2012 05:02PM

Sandy caused major damage to many properties throughout our area.

Since the governor did not declare many counties or communities in our area under a state of emergency, little, if any, federal assistance is available for some area homeowners still in desperate need of help.

So far, no Disaster Declarations for Pennsylvania have been signed this year, with the last being on Sept. 12, 2011 during Tropical Storm Lee.

"Even though there were localized spots of storm damage, there wasn't enough significant damage that would have included our area in the Presidential Disaster Declaration for Individuals," said John Matz, coordinator, Schuylkill County Emergency Management Agency. "This is the only time federal funding comes."

"It is great that our area didn't receive a lot of damage, but not for the few that were affected," said Megan Fredericks, administrative assistant, Carbon County Emergency Management Agency.

"Residents affected by any disaster are encouraged to contact their local EMA director (mostly volunteers) via their local borough or municipality and report the damages," added Fredericks.

"We can't afford to fix our home," said Russell Bahrey Jr., 63.

Superstorm Sandy caused a large tree to fall through and damage his home at 15 Haddock Road in Kline Township. Even though the tree has been removed, his family of six is still living in the heavily damaged home.

"We don't have any place to go," exclaimed Bahrey, who spent the last 10 years and put his life-savings into the home.

He added that the tree that fell just missed a 6-month old baby sleeping in a crib.

Damage to their home from the storm was so severe, that all four walls of the home are warped or bent, causing cold air and rain water to leak in.

"We've tried every state and county agency, no one can help us," stressed Bahrey, a disabled Vietnam veteran. "The only help available to us was from the Tamaqua Salvation Army, who provided us food, paid our electric bill and offered a shelter for all my family in their gymnasium."

The family lost their homeowner's insurance three weeks prior to the storm.

"It would only have cost us $70 to pay for our homeowners insurance," said Bahrey, who survives only on social security payments. "But we couldn't afford it."

The family is using a mattress and metal box spring to hold up the tarps, which stretch the majority of the home's length.

"Even though I am disabled, I've always been able to take care of my family, even doing major home repairs myself," stated Bahrey.

In addition to wall, roof and heavy water damage, Sandy's winds forced a nearby tree to lean dangerously in the direction of the home.

"We are scared to live here," said Bahrey, who mentioned that the home has been in their family their whole lives. "Every night we worry if the tree will eventually fall on our home."

The Tamaqua Volunteers group has opened up a fund for the family. To donate, stop at any Wells Fargo Bank and state you would like to give a donation to the "15 Haddock Fund."

"Sometimes people are unaware of or forget the local victims still struggling following a disaster," said Sharon Whispell, Tamaqua Salvation Army, which provides assistance to both eastern Schuylkill County and western Carbon County. After Sandy came through, the Tamaqua Salvation Army opened up their shelter for about a week for anyone displaced or without power. In addition, they made and delivered over 500 hot meals to homes in both counties.

"The best way to help disaster victims is to simply approach them and offer assistance, as most won't ask for help," stressed Whispell.

"Consider donating to any local organization, such as our Tamaqua Salvation Army or American Red Cross, who both respond during a local disaster."

The address for the Tamaqua Salvation Army is 105 West Broad St., Tamaqua PA 18252. The address for your local American Red Cross is listed in the phone book.

"For those of you that can't afford to donate items or money, please consider donating your time," added Whispell, who pointed out that volunteers are always needed to stand at their red kettles.

"I never ask for anything," said Bahrey. "That is what makes it so hard."

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