It is said that everyone has their 15 minutes of fame. Sometimes, that fame is a welcome thing. Don't you want to be famous? Doesn't everyone?
Sometimes, it is your neighborhood that becomes famous.
Many times, you just as soon wish it had never happened.
That's what I wish, every time I leave my house near Johnson City, NY and walk or travel more than about three or four blocks.
I pass buildings that became vacant 11 months ago today, and are still vacant. Some don't have interior walls. Some are still filled with debris. Some have "For Sale" signs. Some still have bushes encrusted with flood mud.
There is the former credit union building. The former day care center. The former doctor's practice. The former 600,000. square foot factory building that once held 1300 workers. The former adult day care center. The sagging houses that will never be occupied again. One entire street is almost devoid of occupants, with just a handful of hardy souls trying to reclaim their lives.
The out of business and for sale tire store whose mechanics nourished my son's love of car repair especially touches my heart. The former.....the former.....
Many businesses have reopened. The Home Depot. The Ollies. The window contractor. The Aldi. Our local pediatrician. A dentist. A massage therapist. My beloved Unicorn Electronics. Wild Birds Unlimited.
We must look towards the future and I usually do, but today I look back one last time.
This past weekend, I had several cousins visit from the New York City area, Pennsylvania, and (by Skype) Florida, the midwest and Texas. We had a lot of fun, and we talked about many things. Still, a certain book I had taken out of the library drew a number of fascinated readers. They paged through the pictures while my young adult son provided the narration.
One of the cousins graduated last year from Binghamton University. She looked at pictures of places she knew. She had graduated in May of 2011 and the pictures were taken during the period of September 7, 8 and 9, 2011 during the flooding caused by Tropical Storm Lee, It was a book about the flood. If she had still been going to the college, she may well have volunteered at the Events Center, which became one of the evacuation centers.
My neighborhood is on the cover of the flood book. My house is even visible (no, not telling you which one) in the aerial photo.
Our neighborhood of Westover, along with several other areas (some of which suffered much worse than we did) have become a symbol of the flood. Let us name them: Owego. Castle Gardens. Twin Orchards. The Southside of Binghamton. There are others. I really don't know why our neighborhood was chosen for its 15 minutes of fame, but it was.
When I first found out our neighborhood would be on the cover, it was emotionally very hard. It was just a couple of months after the flood, and my feelings were still too raw. But, when I saw the book at the library this past July, I knew it was time. Time to put the flood where it belonged, in the past.
Time to read the book. Time to move on.
So we looked at the book, and then went on to much happier things. We had such a good time that my sides ached the next day.
I wish the flood had never happened. I wish I could have had the power to prevent the storm from doing what it did to our part of upstate NY and parts of several other states. But wishes have no power. Only actions. We have come so far, and we should be proud.
Next month will be the one year anniversary. I will write about the flood recovery one last time. And then I hope to move on permanently to other blog topics.
It is time.