Almost a year after Tropical Storm Irene, some still struggle to dig their way back to the way life was before the storm.
"So I'm a little behind. It's like I'm drowning. But you do the best you can," homeowner Shirley Thomas said.
Thomas has lived in her home for 40 years. She's used to a little flooding from the nearby Hoosick River, but after Irene there was feet of water in their front yard and their basement was flooded just 8 inches from their first floor.
With funding from FEMA plus $7,000 from her own pocket, Thomas replaced her ruined furnace and repaired her roof, but had no money or energy left to clean out the feet of silt and debris sitting in her cellar.
Monday, a group of five teens showed up to help. And bucket by bucket, they filled half a dumpster in just one day.
"It's a lot of work, but I think we're making a lot of progress," volunteer Shahid Offoid said.
Offoid and the other six are part of a Christian volunteer organization called World Changers. Their families paid for them to come from Maryland, the Philippines, and New York to offer free help.
"It kind of grew out of what God has done for us. It's a chance to kind of share God's love with people without asking anything in return," volunteer Steve Curran said.
Sleeping on the floor of a nearby school, the kids come for a week to help where they can.
"They've stuck right on it and it's a lot of work, a lot of work. And they're excellent," Thomas said.
In Bennington, groups of World Changers are taking on 28 projects; four are related to long-term Irene recovery. But organizers say there are far more than four people in the county still trying to build back their lives.
"The rest of the community that hasn't been affected has continued on. And they're not aware of so many of their fellow Vermonters who are still suffering in some ways from the disaster," said Matthew Proft, a long-term recovery case manager.
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