DRYDEN — Sheila Sanford pulled up Monday morning to Tompkins Cortland Community College and handed off dog and cat food, cleaning supplies and garbage bags to groundskeeper Jason Thayer.
When Sanford heard about Monday’s effort to collect supplies for flooding victims in the Seneca County town of Lodi from a fellow parishioner at Grace Christian Fellowship in Cortland, it was a no-brainer to contribute.
“I volunteer to do all I can to help people,” she said. “And I’m a real pet lover, so I wanted to make sure I got to those pets.”
Thayer was collecting the supplies in TC3’s parking lot all morning and into the early afternoon before driving them himself to Lodi to help with flood cleanup efforts underway there. He had permission from TC3, which also let him use the college’s groundskeeping trucks to collect the goods and make the trip to Lodi.
On Aug. 14, Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency in more than a dozen upstate counties hit by flash flooding caused by torrential rains.
Lodi was hit particularly hard, as 5 inches of rain fell in Covert, Lodi, Ovid and Romulus, according to the National Weather Service.
Thayer, also CSEA union president, arranged the collection effort at the last minute Friday, he explained. He wasn’t sure how many people would have heard about it from his hasty efforts at publicizing the collection over the weekend.
But by midmorning Monday, Thayer already had filled most of the bed of a heavy-duty truck.
“There’s a lot of good people out there,” he said.
Thayer had heard about the need in Lodi so he contacted the fire chief there to determine what was needed. That way, said Thayer, he knew what to ask people to bring and it guarantees there won’t be wasted donations.
Monday wasn’t the first time Thayer, with permission of TC3, collected donations for an area in need — he did it last year for parts of Texas hit by Hurricane Harvey.
That effort saw three full college dump-truck loads sent to Stupid Choppers in Homer, which then sent collections to Texas.
There was a broader range of collections then, but also a great deal of pet food, he said.
“Some people forget about the animals, but some other people don’t,” he said.
This time too, there were bags of pet food donated, like what Sanford brought, and also cleaning supplies, lots of bottled water and plastic gloves.
It will all be used, said Tucker Snyder, second assistant fire chief in Lodi.
Snyder said the Aug. 14 rain hit residents hard, and especially damaged Lodi Point State Park.
“A couple of mobile homes washed out into the lake,” Snyder said. “And a couple of homes shifted 20 or 30 foot off their foundation and we had cars out in the lake.”
Now teams of volunteers and prison inmates are out cleaning the area, he said.
The National Guard was also deployed to parts of Seneca County. Residents and volunteers are constantly coming to the fire station, which has been set up as an incident command center, to get more supplies.
“Whatever they get as a donation, I know the families are going to use,” he said. “As fast as we get bottled water, it’s going right out the door.”