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Opinion: SALT Forever, Sustainable

Written By Editor on 9/9/14 | 9/9/14

SALT has been among the most effective community groups since 2011's flooding. Its intrepid employees and volunteers have been incredibly effective at rebuilding homes, businesses, and lives shattered by Irene.

They need to stick around. There are still homes and businesses left to be fixed and the need for volunteers. SALT also partners with other groups to educate the public about flood and disaster response. There will be a need for general flood mitigation. Unfortunately, some day in the future the area will need a rapid reaction force ready to take on flooding.

SALT will, and should be there for these eventualities.

However, three years on after the flood, some things should transition. SALT has effectively aided over 600 properties, and has organized and distributed thousands of hours of volunteer labor and hundreds of dollars. There's a new reality as the flow of volunteers and donations slow to a trickle. It's nothing that SALT or any other local group did wrong, it's just that money and labor follow recent disasters. Schoharie Recovery co-founder Josh DeBartolo is in Colorado helping with flood recovery there-- it's just what good-hearted people do.

So with less cash and fewer hands on deck over the next years, what should SALT do? A large portion can stay the same-- keep the VISTA volunteers ready-- paid for by federal grants, keep sending out as many volunteers as possible, and keep informing the public. However, due to the fact that donations have declined and will continue the decline, moving to an all-volunteer basis (or a very low stipend system) is the only way that a group of the scale of SALT can sustain itself over the next several years. Any significant administrative costs will eventually rival the costs of materials and work done on-site. It happened to other major groups and could easily happen here.

SALT is, was, and will be an integral part of the County. It's important that it places itself in a position to do so.
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