[Hpn] Repaired Easton Shelter To Reopen

William Charles Tinker wtinker@metrocast.net
Sun, 19 Jun 2005 04:21:35 -0400


June 19, 2005

Repaired Easton shelter to reopen

Safe Harbor finishes $50,000 in fixes after April flooding.

By Tom Coombe
Of The Morning Call

When Hurricane Ivan's remnants hit Easton last year, Safe Harbor  a shelter
for homeless adults  lived up to its name. Its residents stayed dry, and
the only damage occurred in the flooded basement.

When the Delaware River flooded in April, Safe Harbor wasn't as lucky. Water
filled the basement and three feet of the first floor, forcing 18 residents
to evacuate and causing thousands of dollars in damage to the floor, walls
and basement.

On Monday, after more than two months of work and slightly more than $50,000
in repairs, Safe Harbor will reopen. On Friday, director Tyson Sprandel
juggled media interviews and final preparations.

Dueling scents  pine-scented cleaning solution and fresh paint  filled the
building, a nearly 200-year-old Colonial-style house on Bushkill Drive.

Light reflected off new floor tiles, and donated clothing  men's pants and
shirts and women's skirts, blouses and shoes  waited in the living room.
The shelter's unsullied appearance was miles from the scene in the days
following April's flood.

''It was an absolute nightmare,'' Sprandel said. When the water came, there
was little time to react.

''We just started moving stuff up'' to the second floor, he said. ''We saved
so much by moving it up.''

He had placed a gas can outside to measure the progress of the flooding.
Within a few hours, it had floated away. It was time to move the residents
out.

''Here you had 18 homeless people who didn't have a nickel, and all of the
sudden: impending homelessness again,'' Sprandel said.

They loaded into the shelter's van and two cars, and headed for St.
Anthony's Youth Center on Washington Street, where the Red Cross had set up
a temporary shelter. After two days, the former Safe Harbor residents spread
out across the Lehigh Valley: some to the Third Street Alliance shelter in
Easton, some to the Allentown Rescue Mission and others to temporary
apartments.

Safe Harbor quickly began restoration work. Crews had to dry out the
building, replace the tiles and the walls and repaint.

''When the flood came, we decided the right thing to do was to move right
away [to do the repairs],'' said Alan Jennings, executive director of the
Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley, which counts Safe Harbor
among its programs.

It figured paying for the work, Jennings said, would take care of itself
through grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

''We went ahead and had the work done and found out the city didn't have
flood insurance,'' Jennings said.

Easton leases the Safe Harbor shelter to a nonprofit group called Safe
Harbor Easton Inc., which in turn leases it to the action committee. Without
flood insurance, it's unlikely FEMA will reimburse the repairs.

That meant the action committee had to look for funding from several
sources: its own reserves, the reserves of Safe Harbor Inc., plus donations
from Northampton County Human Services Department, the food services company
Sodexho USA and from the Times Mirror Foundation. The foundation, which has
since disbanded, was owned by the Times Mirror Co., the former owner of The
Morning Call.

Since the flood, people have asked Sprandel if he'd consider moving away
from the river. He says Safe Harbor is staying where it is: a central
location that's easy for its residents and clients to find.

''Yeah, we could build a building out in Forks,'' he said. ''How are they
going to get there?''

 tom.coombe@mcall.com

 610-559-2157





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