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WA Union Offers 'Wave' of Flood Relief

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Wednesday, December 26, 2007   

Gray's Harbor, WA - A New Year's bonus, of sorts, is available to teachers' union members in the 12 Washington counties that have been declared disaster areas. Members and retirees of the American Federation of Teachers(AFT) can apply for disaster relief grants to help with flood cleanup of their homes.

The Washington teachers contribute to the AFT's disaster relief fund, which was set up in 2005 to assist fellow union members struggling to recover from Gulf Coast hurricanes. At Gray's Harbor College, AFT Washington local President Gary Murrell says his coworkers never expected to have to use it themselves.

"It's just a great thing. There was no way that we could know that this would happen when we first put money into the fund after Katrina, to help out fellow union members in Louisiana."

Murrell says he's heard from teachers who've had rooms, or entire homes, damaged by flooding and fallen trees. The grant amount won't fix them, but it'll help with things like insurance deductibles.

"I know a lot of us had trees down in our yards that insurance didn't cover, and we have to do debris removal. I think we'll use our AFT grant to help replace food; we lost a freezer full of food."

Murrell says union members and retirees can apply for the $500 grants through their AFT local president before the end of January. Almost 5,000 thousand people in Washington have already applied for federal disaster relief from FEMA.





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