Oneida (WSYR-TV) - Homeowners in Oneida are struggling to find what can be salvaged from their flood-ravaged homes, but outside help is needed for any significant progress to be made.
Toni Whitbeck has spent the last week digging through the collectibles and cherished belongings she stored in her basement. Her boots, clothes and skin are streaked with mud.
"The sentimental things were of my husbands," she says. "I mean, he's been gone five years, but I hated throwing out anything that was his. But I had to throw it out."
Having enlisted the help of only her three children, Toni was grateful when a stranger stopped by and offered to help.
"Right now I don't need more help," she says. "I could have used more help. But he was the only one that came. This guy. I don't know, he just did it on his own."
So, there is help to be found, but not nearly enough when most are spending the long weekend celebrating instead of sanitizing.
"It doesn't look as terrible as I thought it might," says Ernie Longenecker, a volunteer from Yates County. "But, until you get inside a house and see the mold and slime... It's not very good."
Army Carinci Junior is overseeing the reconstruction of his parents' home. Carinci Senior is a longtime civil servant and former Oneida Mayor. The first floor and basement of his Wilson Street house have been gutted.
"Sometimes it doesn't matter what happened," says Carinci Jr. "If you can rebuild, you come back. He's the type of person who wants to stay here until his last days."
Many of Oneida's elderly feel the same way. But, without help, the destruction may be too great.
Anyone interested in volunteering to help with the clean-up should report to the City of Oneida pod tent site on Wilson Street between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.