Immediate Release

 For Information Contact:

Monday, September 12, 2020

Brian Adey

Governments, Agencies Will Partner
To Support Relief Efforts for Katrina Victims
Evacuees Urged to Undergo Health Screening

Oneida County Executive Joseph A. Griffo today announced that County Government and local agencies will work collaboratively to assist relief efforts aimed at helping the victims of Hurricane Katrina through the Oneida County Katrina Aid Partnership.

Griffo also urged anyone who has been in the flooded region to contact the Oneida County Health Department and undergo health screenings to avoid potential health risks.

The County Executive also announced that local officials have begun reaching out to Gulf Coast localities to implement an “Adopt-a-County” Project that will provide support to the hurricane-ravaged region.

Katrina Aid Partnership Formed

“The Oneida County Katrina Aid Partnership is designed to facilitate local efforts to connect people of our region with agencies that can help them support hurricane victims in whatever way they want,” Griffo said. “The tremendous outpouring of support we are witnessing needs to be effectively channeled to do the most possible good. I appreciate all the efforts of our local agencies and governments to work as a team. United we serve.”

“The needs of Hurricane Katrina’s victims fall into many different areas,” said Assemblywoman RoAnn M. Destito (D/WF-Rome). “This collaborative effort will ensure that donations from Mohawk Valley residents are utilized quickly and appropriately to help Gulf Coast residents. There is no question that when agencies and municipalities work together, they can accomplish more, and the Katrina Aid Partnership will respond to many needs that have arisen due to this disaster, both in the Gulf Coast region, and in our area.”

Griffo said that the local effort will coordinate with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the State Emergency Management Office (SEMO) and the Department of Homeland Security. Griffo said that to streamline the local effort, partner agencies have been designated as the contacts for various key parts of the relief effort. Here’s the list, broken down by the areas of major need:

Food & Water: Rescue Mission; Welcome Hall; American Red Cross, Utica; American Red Cross, Rome; Compassion Coalition; Catholic Charities.

Housing: Rescue Mission; Welcome Hall; Utica Housing Authority; Rome Housing Authority; Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees; Mohawk Valley Community Action; Oneida County Department of Social Services.

Manpower: Boy Scouts, Revolutionary Trails Council; Girl Scouts, Foothills Council; Mohawk Valley Community Action, Oneida County Department of Social Services.

Financial: United Way; American Red Cross, Utica; American Red Cross, Rome; Local, State and Federal Governments.

Medical: Oneida County Health Department; Oneida County Department of Mental Health; Oneida County Office for the Aging; Compassion Coalition; Catholic Charities.

Clothing: Rescue Mission; American Red Cross, Utica; American Red Cross, Rome; Compassion Coalition; Catholic Charities.

Transportation: The Teamsters Union Local 182 has also offered assistance in transportation.

Business-to-Business: Businessman Walter Pratt has offered storage space in the former GE Building on Broad Street in Utica for office equipment and furniture that local businesses wish to donate to Gulf Coast businesses.

Griffo said Director of Emergency Management Services Fred Van Namee will coordinate the effort on behalf of County Government. Agencies interested in joining the Katrina Aid Partnership can contact him at 765-2526.

Health Screenings Urged

Griffo urged everyone coming from the Gulf Coast region either as an evacuee or as a volunteer returning to the region to contact the Oneida County Health Department clinic at 798-5888 and undergo health screenings as a preventive measure. Noting that the Syracuse Diocese has offered free tuition to Katrina refugees, Griffo said the region needs along-term plan in place to protect both evacuees and others.

“Anyone exposed to the flood waters, or who has been a volunteer coming back from the region, could have been exposed to a number of potential health hazards. We want people who have been in the region and are now here to let us know they are here so that we can give them any shots they might need now. As time goes on, we also want to be able to contact them for any follow-ups that might be suggested by the Centers for Disease Control,” Griffo said.

“Adopt-a-County” Outreach Begun

Griffo also said that county officials have begun communications with officials in the devastated Gulf Coast counties and parishes that are similar in size to Oneida County to find ways Oneida County and its people can help. “The destruction caused by the hurricane goes far beyond New Orleans. As a small county of small communities, we want to reach out to a county or parish that will not be in the limelight so that people who may otherwise think they have been forgotten will know that someone is out there who can help and will help long after Katrina is off the front pages,” Griffo said.

“Small communities know best what they need, and how best to meet those needs,” said Roger Cleveland of the Oneida County Association of Towns. “We want to reach out neighbor-to-neighbor just the way we would if a disaster hit here.”

“America’s Gulf Coast needs help today and will be needing help for many months to come,” Rome Mayor James Brown said. “The scale of this unprecedented disaster to the people, communities and environment of the Gulf Coast must be matched by our commitment to harness our region’s spirit of sharing on behalf of those who have lost jobs, homes, businesses, loved ones and everything they once held dear.”

"As we learn more about the situation in the South I feel it is vital that our municipalities join together and focus our assistance efforts. That will help the greatest amount of people in the most efficient way possible," said Utica Mayor Timothy Julian. "This joint effort of community programs will provide a unified front in assisting those in need."

Griffo said that today’s announcement followed meetings with Assemblywoman RoAnn Destito and representatives from: Gov. Pataki’s Office, The Teamsters Union, local agencies including the American Red Cross (Rome and Utica Chapters), Boy Scouts of America, Rescue Mission of Utica, Welcome Hall, Compassion Coalition, Mohawk Valley Community Action, Catholic Charities, Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees, Girl Scouts, United Way; local governments including the cities of Rome and Utica, the housing authorities of Utica and Rome, and the Oneida County Association of Towns as well as from Oneida County Departments including Health, Social Services, Emergency Services, Mental Health, Office for the Aging.