Thursday, September 11, 2014

Another 9/11

Today is September 11, 2014, the 13th anniversary of what we in the United States simply call "9/11", as if that was the only September 11 ever.

Of course, it wasn't, although if you say 9/11 to the average American, this is one of the images he or she may get - heroic first responders.

I don't minimize September 11, 2001, not at all. As someone who grew up in New York City, I know people who suffered terribly, from the loss of a son, to the loss of a best friend, to losses of neighbors, to two people from this area who responded to that area and provided services (my exercise instructor stayed for nearly a month to help out) and an elderly uncle in Brooklyn who may have had preexisting health problems aggravated by breathing in the fumes.  But there is another September 11 that will also stay in my mind, side by side with the more famous one.

On September 8/9, 2011, massive flooding hit the Southern Tier of New York and caused extensive damage to many neighborhoods.  An aerial photo of my neighborhood, Westover, near Johnson City, New York, became the iconic cover of a local book about the flood.

My neighborhood is still recovering, three years later.

On the morning of September 11, 2011, I wrote the below post from a motel room in Cortland, New York.  What it doesn't mention is what we saw after we arrived in our neighborhood.  We saw fire trucks from the Syracuse area and from parts of Pennsylvania.  These first responders had come to help our neighbors who were seriously flooded.  And, there was more.  The Salvation Army set up a food tent several blocks from where we live so people without homes could get a hot meal. 

In the coming days local business owners and their employees, some of whose businesses had had to close temporarily, helped the people of my neighborhood and other neighborhoods.  One set up a food tent and cooked donated food. Others spearheaded a furniture drive. 

Maureen McGovern even did a benefit concert for our area. The concert had already been scheduled, and Ms. McGovern donated her profits to flood relief.  What class!

If you have never had to depend on the generosity of co workers and neighbors, hope you never have to.

Every one of those people was heroic in their own way.  And, as much as I have a personal stake in the memories of September 11, 2001,  I remember, just as vividly, a September 11, 10 years later.

Here's my post from that date.

September 11, 2011

We did not make it back to our neighborhood on September 10.  Midway through our drive from Maine to the Binghamton area yesterday, our son called and told us about an 8pm curfew.  So time suddenly became of the essence.

According to 511NY, I-88 was open all the way.  It wasn't.  The detour cost us time.  We got to our neighborhood at 7:40 pm, Main Street was closed and blocked, the emergency worker told us they had closed at 7:30.  He would have "turned his back" if we parked in a certain place and walked in "just to take a look" but it was dark and it would have been too dangerous.

We quickly found all the area motels were full.  We ended up in Cortland, NY, about 35 miles from where we live, totally exhausted. We will be leaving later this morning to go back to the Triple Cities.

I am watching the 9/11 ceremonies live as I blog this.  I just finished chatting with the one neighbor who didn't evacuate and he advised there is traffic in the neighborhood once again.  What a juxposition.  9/11 ceremonies and wondering what we will find in our devastated neighborhood.  I saw a picture on the TV as I ate breakfast.

I want to note there are a lot of people in our area worse off than we are.  Please do not feel sorry for us.  Our house is still there.

During our brief visit to near our neighbhorhood there was an indescribable haze, a haze of dust being raised by people plowing the road (yes, they were plowing Main Street) The flood smell I can't even describe was there.

Remember the Michael Jackson song describing the "funk of 40 thousand years"?

 It would not have been a pleasant night.

My heart goes out to all the emergency workers and rescuers on this special 9/11.  You are at work once again. You are keeping my home and neighborhood safe.   And my son's.  I haven't even talked about my son's situation yet. 

Wish us luck as we try to go back today.

14 comments:

  1. Flooding is so devastating, and it really does take an incredible amount of time for a community to recover from its effects. I'm glad you and your house stayed safe throughout.

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    1. It was an experience I hope we (and our neighbors) never have to go through again. My heart now goes out to those affected every time I hear about a flood on the national or international news.

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  2. It's good to remember all the people who helped others during a time of loss of such large proportions. I love it when people pull together to help each other in times of crisis.

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    1. People band together to help one another so many times in disasters. If only we could do it at other times, too.

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  3. Thanks for sharing such beautiful heartfelt posts Alana. It is great to know that first responders are there when you need them. How challenging it must be for them to be reminded of the original 9/11 with other emergency disasters. Glad that you and your home were safe. :) <3

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    1. It is amazing how first responders who were involved in 9/11 go out to other disasters. And in turn, others help them. I heard a story yesterday about a 9/11 responder whose house was destroyed by Superstorm Sandy and how people just showed up to help him rebuild.

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  4. It's devastating when nature unleashes it's fury..But yes everytime when people pull together to help each other during such emergencies it reinstates my faith in humanity

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    1. We as a species have the potential for so much love and so much greatness. It does come out in times of disaster. If only it came out more at other times.

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  5. November 9/11 will never forgotten. Still praying to all of the victims.

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  6. Flooding must be horrendous. We had lots of flooding in the UK recently, I am very grateful that I live on a bit of a hill!

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    1. It is an experience that too many people have gone through in the past few years. It almost seems like I hear about floods in the news almost weekly now.

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  7. Nature can cause terrible tragedy to people and families. On good thing that comes from mass difficulties is the way people band together in times of need. It's almost as if the event joggs people's memories about being one group of human beings.

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    1. Psychologists may be able to explain why we band together after disaster the way we do. Seeing it first hand was a humbling experience.

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