It is the last day of August.
In one week, we celebra...I mean, commemorate - the one year anniversary of the floods that hit this part (and other parts) of upstate New York due to Tropical Storm Lee.
This is our newspaper's answer to the upcoming anniversary: survey the readers. Maybe I would get in the paper if I answered. At the risk of putting my readers to sleep, I will answer.
I have a lot of mixed feelings, believe it or not, about marking the anniversary. There's a part of me that just doesn't want to talk about it anymore. There's another part that realizes that it seems no one has really faced the issues that led to this flood. For whatever reason, our climate is changing and many places not prone to flooding suddenly are - including farms in this area. It isn't just the urban folk like me.
It's only going to get worse. We (meaning the U.S. as a whole) must find a way to survive flooding, to adapt ourselves to our new reality.
Flood walls need repair. They need to be planned differently. We must have new building codes. We plain have to learn to adapt. There's a lot of work to do and I honestly don't see much of it getting done. Local governments are strapped. The Federal government is in major deficit? People don't have jobs. How do we deal with this?
I'm not having fun yet. I don't think any of my neighbors are, either. No one is having fun, not the people in Louisiana, not the people in Florida, not the people in Fargo, not the people in Charleston, SC or Minnesota or anywhere else now on the front lines of flooding, except maybe the manufacturers of sand and sandbags.
But, for the sake of argument, if I did answer the survey: these would be my responses. (and yes, you are excused. You may now leave the blog. Please come back tomorrow for my Sustainable Saturday. Thank you for your time!)
Name * Nope. I understand why a newspaper asks for ID. But this isn't a letter to the editor. This is about peoples' personal experiences. Is it really necessary?
Town * If I named my neighborhood, locals would know it right away. Not a good way to get fame.
Best phone number to reach you * This will
not be published. Yikes, they are going to call to confirm? (See "name")
Have you recovered emotionally from the flood? No, not there yet. And maybe that's why you still see mental health volunteers (an excellent organization called Project Recovery) at places like local farmers markets and the Garlic Festival held two weeks ago. The kind follks at Project Recovery told me (yes, I spoke to them at one point about my personal issues) it takes a good year. Recovery from a loss doesn't happen on a schedule and it isn't going to cut off on September. But the healing WILL complete itself. I am 100% sure of that.
Have you repaired your home? How long did it take? What did it cost? About repairs, we are probably 98% there, but what is left is minor - it is hard finding a contractor around here, still, for small jobs. Too many big jobs still needing their attention. I understand this. And, again, we suffered so much less than many other people in our neighborhood. Cost: less than it could have been. We were lucky. 'Nuf said.
What problems do you still face? I will let those more greatly affected answer that. I still have a house. I will mention this: Major employer (1300
jobs) left our neighborhood due to the flooding; guess what will happen
to our taxes as the building sits and rots away?
How did government -- local, state, federal -- work or not work for you?
Thank you for the comic relief. I haven't laughed so hard in weeks. Seriously, I've heard mixed stories re FEMA. My own experiences I blogged about some last year.
Do you know a neighbor who stepped up to
help someone else? Glad you asked because there was a LOT of that. You would need a special edition of the paper to list. Neighbors. Churches. Local employers. Fire departments (for their pumps) from long drives away.
I also heard enough stories about those who took advantage, even those who pretended they were "victims". As usual, there are two sides to the human experience and I saw both of them last year.
I just hope there isn't a "next time". But I know in my heart there will be. Please, Press and Sun Bulletin, please report on THAT.