Today and tomorrow we mark the 9 month flood anniversary for portions of upstate NY, Pennsylvania, and assorted places in New Jersey and other northeastern states. After a much wetter than normal summer, and Tropical Storm Irene in August, Tropical Storm Lee came and dumped approximately 10 inches of rain on our area on Wednesday, September 7, 2011. The ground and rivers couldn't hold the water anymore. On September 7, flash flooding started. One impacted road, in fact, just reopened today.
And then the rivers rose, into September 8. Rose, and escaped their banks. The Susquehanna inundated entire neighborhoods, entire villages. My neighborhood of Westover, near Johnson City, NY was one of the hard hit neighborhoods. But there was worse. Much worse.
One of the worst hit was Owego, the "Coolest Small Town in America".
I've read estimates that 75% of the buildings in Owego suffered flood damage. This building was one of them.
blogged about Owego last November and the recovery continues. But....
It's always the children who suffer the most. The Owego-Apalachin school district (called O-A locally) lost 4 of its buildings with others badly damaged. The children had to be split up and bussed to different schools. I know an elementary school teacher in Endicott who teaches some of those children. She, personally, was also impacted by the flood. Only in the past few days has FEMA stepped up to help with the replacement of these buildings.
But the schools were helping with the childrens' flood recovery way before that announcement-through writing.
O-A is spearheading a project called "Unsinkable". Students will write or tell their stories, and input from other residents is being sought. Eventually these will be compiled into a book, so all can remember.
I've thought myself about writing some of my experiences into a memoir. I've blogged about some of them, but there are other stories I haven't told anyone. I plan to blog more about this "someday".
This continues to be a difficult time for our region, but we are making progress. We are unsinkable.