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Ti teachers rally to aid colleague

Keene Valley home lost to flooding

Russ Cook, a Ticonderoga Elementary School teacher, and his family lost their Keene valley home to Tropical Storm Irene.  Repairs are estimated to cost up to $60,000 and won’t be complete until late winter.

Russ Cook, a Ticonderoga Elementary School teacher, and his family lost their Keene valley home to Tropical Storm Irene. Repairs are estimated to cost up to $60,000 and won’t be complete until late winter.

— Those repairs are estimated to cost up to $60,000.

The Cooks, who had no flood insurance, have completed applications for low interest emergency home loans through their local bank. The maximum possible loan is $15,000. Federal Emergency Management Agency assistance has been applied for and the Cooks recently received a check for $500. It was accompanied by a letter offering two options: either appeal the grant amount or apply for a low interest loan. They’ll be do both.

Friends and family are stepping up to help with donations. The Ticonderoga Parent-Teacher Association and the Ticonderoga Teachers Association have made cash contributions. Cook’s colleagues in Ticonderoga held a dinner Oct. 2 at Emerald’s Restaurant to raise money for the home re-construction. It included several raffles.

“Every dime donated will go to Russ and his family,” promised Kathy Marshall, a Ti teacher who helped organize the dinner.

Cook expressed his thanks by providing the entertainment. He joined Brad Hurlburt — the Back Porch Society — to play acoustic blues for those attending.

“The support, both financially and emotionally, has been big,” Cook said. “The teachers are always asking what they can do. Within the first week the PTA handed us a check for our basic needs. The (teacher union) sunshine committee has really helped my family. It’s made it a lot easier to come to work knowing so many people care.

“I have to give kudos to Kathy Marshall and Bridget McLaughlin for spearheading this (Ti) event,” he added. “It wouldn’t have been possible without them and Mark Wood at Ti Country Club (Emerald’s).”

About $5,600 has been donated to the Cooks.

But even with the out-pouring of help, the Cooks face serious challenges. With the donations and loans, they still need to find $30-40,000 to fully repair their home — and they still need housing until the repairs are complete.

Immediately after the flood the Cooks stayed two weeks with Dave and Cynthia Johnston. Cynthia Johnston is the Keene Central School superintendent. A second-home owner in Keene then offered use of his house to the Cook family through November. Come December, the Cooks will again be homeless.

“Things always work out,” Cook said of his housing plans come December. “Something will fall into place. You have to play with the hand you’ve been dealt. I won’t stress over it.”

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