Friday, September 7, 2012

It's a Flood Anniversary. Time to Party!

Yes, I freely admit it.  We in the Southern Tier of NY State are crazy.

Today is the first anniversary of the massive flooding that hit the Binghamton/Johnson City/Endicott/Vestal/Owego/Conklin/Kirkwood (and tack on a few more names) starting on Wednesday, September 7, 2011.

Time to party!

Today we look back at what was.  There will be TV retrospectives, and I am sure something in the newspaper. (I haven't looked yet).

 We will remember videos like this, posted right after the flood, complete with music suitable for a funeral.

And now it is time to move on.  Not to sweep the hardships under the rug, but to move into the future.  If we don't do it, the future will move us forward whether we like it or not.

And there is so much we have learned.

Take a 92 year old woman living alone in the Twin Orchards neighborhood in Vestal, NY.  It is so close knit that her neighbors (themselves flooded) came together to save her condemned home.   Even houses with windows once decorated by the dreaded X (condemned) are being fixed up.  In June, they held themselves a party.

The residents of Owego, NY, the coolest small town in America, are going to hold themselves a party tonight and tomorrow.  Tonight, 5 to 10pm ceremonies and sales, followed by fireworks (fireworks that couldn't be used July 4 and were held over).  Saturday, a free community BBQ.  They are another community that has come together.  They are calling the event "Turning the Tide".

Conklin, NY (they are flood prone anyway, but 2011 was over the top, no pun intended) celebrates with a Town Fair.

Today, the Red Cross thanked the volunteers that helped.  Tomorrow, our county officially commenorates the anniversary at 1pm.

It isn't all great happy ever after stories, of course.

Parts of my neighborhood of Westover, near Johnson City, NY, await buyouts.  There is some hope for my neighborhood, unlike some others.  The flooded part is right off a main street and it is hoped that the flood-condemned homes will be torn down and replaced with something better. (and, hopefully, something will be done to protect us from a repeat performance).

I have talked about the future of the former BAE building (one of the largest wood framed structures in the United States) in Westover, where 1300 people worked prior to the flood, so many times that my regular readers must be sick of it. Guess what.  The building still sits there, its interior walls stripped to the girders, patiently waiting for a wrecking ball that may be years in coming. After that - a park?  An urban food forest?  Who knows.

Some businesses in Westover, such as our beloved Tony B's, will never reopen.

Other flooded neighborhoods near mine will be razed and turned into parks.

I really don't know how to end this post.  These coming days will bring back so many memories, some that I wouldn't blog about just because they wouldn't mean much to someone who wasn't there.    The good memories.  The bad memories.  The strange sights I witnessed (and some of them, trust me, were really strange.)  The feelings that I know are part of the aftermath of a traumatic event.

But I decided to end this post by reaching out to all those trying to recover from natural disaster, especially those impacted by our recent Hurricanes Debbie and Isaac. 

There's life.  There's hope.  It will get better, one day.  You will smile and laugh again.

And one day, I hope you get to party, too.

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