The task force that came together to coordinate the outpouring of good will following the February, 2011, gas explosion in Allentown has organized a volunteer-based effort to assist Lehigh Valley residents whose homes were damaged by Superstorm Sandy.
The project, announced Wednesday, is being coordinated by Hal Black, a volunteer who is a retired Air Products executive. Black and the task force recruited teams of volunteers to visit the homes of eligible households to assess the damage. If the repairs needed fall within the scope of the volunteers' skills, they will be made immediately.
In situations where the home requires more specialized skills, the Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley will use the contractors that work in its weatherization program. Households that meet the following criteria will be eligible for assistance:
- Residents of Lehigh and Northampton counties
- Households in which the owner-occupant is 65 years of age or older and/or has physical limitations that prevent them from making the improvements themselves
- Homeowners lacking insurance or whose insurance does not cover the damage
- The damage was clearly caused by "Superstorm" Sandy
- Total household income falls below 200% of the federal poverty guidelines. For example, a single resident must have an income below $22,340, a household of two below $30,260, and a household of three below $38,180.
Up to $1,000 in repairs will be made to the homes.
Northampton and Lehigh county residents whose circumstances fit the criteria above are asked to call CACLV at 610-691-5620. The agency will need basic information to determine eligibility before dispatching a team.
The task force raised $40,000 for this initiative. The sources include the Northampton County General Purpose Authority, which allocated $20,000, and ESSA Bank, the Lehigh Valley Labor Council, retired PPL CEO William Hecht, and an anonymous donor, each of which donated $5,000.
"As too many of our neighbors are painfully aware, the Lehigh Valley has spent the past two weeks emerging from the calamity that was Hurricane Sandy,” said Alicia Miller Karner, president of the CACLV’s board of directors.
“We may have dodged the worst of the storm, but there is plenty of work to be done and we are proud that, once again, the Lehigh Valley is taking care of its own."