Grant Money Gives Flood Victims the Final Push

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DURYEA -- There are still a number of people in Luzerne County living in FEMA trailers because of the September 2011 flood. However, some other flood victims are back in their homes after a group called NeighborWorks Northeastern Pennsylvania helped them rebuild.

All it took was four feet of water to ruin almost everything Sharon Schmidt and her husband Joseph owned.

"Everything in the shed, all my Christmas decorations, my cookbooks, my years and years of cookbooks. We lost everything. But we had each other," said Sharon Schmidt, of Duryea.

After the September 2011 flood destroyed her home in Duryea, Schmidt and her husband spent about a year living in a FEMA trailer.

"I mean we lived in the trailer, but he slept in the trailer, and I slept upstairs because the trailer's so small," said Schmidt.

That's why she relied on $14,000 from FEMA and help from volunteers to get their house together.

But it still wasn't enough.

"Ten, eleven months after the flooding, there were still many families who needed assistance to get back into their properties. Some of them only needed a little bit of help, might be 5 or 10 thousand dollars," said NeighborWorks executive director Jesse Ergott.

NeighborWorks stepped in with $5,000 for the finishing touches on Schmidt's home.

The funding from NeighborWorks was specifically given out to people who hadn't been able to move back into their homes for more than a year. Connie Andrews was one of them. She still hasn't moved back into her home yet.

"Without them, I would not be where I am right now because I could have not have done without them," said Connie Andrews, of West Pittston.

Andrews' home in West Pittston will be ready for her to move back in next week. Sharon Schmidt moved back in just before Christmas and says it's worth the wait.

"We had Christmas dinner here. Homemade raviolis, which I hadn't made in I don't know how long," said Schmidt.

Neighborworks is funded by the Weinberg Foundation and by the Diocese of Scranton. Over the past several months, the organization has given out $145,000 to 34 families affected by the flood of 2011.

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