ELLENVILLE, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The village of Ellenville improved its ability to prepare and respond to emergencies on Saturday with the unveiling of a new shelter. Housed in the Hunt Memorial Building, it was a $3 million project by the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery.

During Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee in 2011, Ellenville lost essential power. Residents evacuated their homes due to major flooding and power outages that lasted for weeks. It became clear that the village did not have an emergency shelter that could appropriately house residents who were forced to evacuate their homes, notably a shelter appropriate to their abilities and medical needs. 

“We are pleased that our community is now more resilient and better able to respond during disasters due to this new emergency shelter,” said Ellenville Mayor Jeff Kaplan. “We thank the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery for their ongoing partnership.”

The lower floor of the new building was remodeled into a safe sheltering space for Ellenville residents with a new emergency generator to supply electricity during power outages and important modifications such as new windows, asbestos abatement, updated electrical service, commercial-grade kitchen, new flooring and a new heating and air conditioning system. It also included many ADA-compliant measures like a wheelchair ramp and lift.

On top of serving as a shelter during emergencies, the building will also function as a cooling center during extreme heat. The upper floors of the Hunt Memorial Building, which were renovated in 2016 as a different project remain available as community meeting spaces.

“From major hurricanes to extreme heat, the intensity and unpredictability of major weather events necessitates that every community can provide a stable, safe, and sustainable shelter,” said GOSR Executive Director Katie Brennan. “The new facility in Ellenville is another example of how GOSR’s grassroots, community-driven process is building resilient communities that are better prepared for emergencies and to keep their residents safe when it matters most.”

The project comprises a needs assessment and identification of an appropriate space for a shelter. The Hunt Memorial Building was chosen for its convenient location and outside the floodplain. Designs for the renewal were made in collaboration with the State Historic Preservation Office to preserve the historic character of the facade of the century-old building, which is listed on both the National and State Historic registers.

“The Hunt building is over 100 years old, and it is nice to see the role of the emergency shelter being added to its rich history,” said Assemblymember Brian Miller. “I can appreciate the importance of this shelter facility that can assist more than 30 residents during emergencies.”

This is GOSR’s third safety project in the Ellenville community. In 2019, GOSR completed work to install backup power generators at Ellenville’s emergency operations center in Village Hall, at its water treatment station and at the local radio station. Last year, the agency built stream bank rehabilitation and resiliency measures along the Beer Kill and Sandburg Creek.