As my regular readers know, my neighborhood of Westover, near Johnson City, New York, was one of many neighborhoods impacted by a massive flood caused by a record year of rain, capped by two tropical storms in a couple of weeks time - Irene, and then Lee. Meanwhile, this past week, Houston has also been hit by historic flooding. I want to tell the people there "it will be a hard road, but you will recover."
This email is intensely personal to me, but I wanted to share it with you for "T" day in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. My theme, after all, is "Days of Our Lives".
"There was a thick fog this morning, and I took a walk through some of my Westover neighborhood. The lights of the BAE restoration diffused into the fog and dimly lit our neighborhood. For the first 2 1/2 blocks, everything was normal. These houses have electricity. Halloween decorations glowed in the dark, orange and green. And then I hit The Other Side. Turning onto Main Street, I peered down the streets of the other half of my neighborhood. Dark, with few cars parked on the streets, no decorations glowed there. No one was home. No one has been home since September 8, 2011. Only the thick fog keeps me company.
I didn't look to my left, towards the Johnson City Y. It is still closed. It was flooded, and reopened, but then, last Saturday, a fire hit. Right now the estimated reopening date is November 4.
On the BAE side of Main Street, restoration employees arrive to begin their daily shift. The crowds of day workers who did the initial muck-out and waited in lines on Main Street to check in at a tent are gone, and the relative silence is eerie. There is still a lot of equipment there, tents, and people smoking cigarettes before their shift begins. Here, the lights glow almost like day through the fog.
The future itself of BAE is in doubt, but they continue to clean up the property in the meantime.
I walked on Main Street along the BAE property. On the other side of Main Street, the flooded side, Westover Plaza, stands empty. Lights glow in only one store, an Aldi, which has been totally remodeled. They are moving groceries into the building and I expect their reopening will be announced soon.
I stood at the fence in front of the front entrance of BAE, and a song from the 80's popped into my head. I don't know why, because this is not how I usually behave, but I suddenly sang out the song in my mind. It was a Simple Minds song called "All The Things She Said":
(I probably shouldn't be quoting this without permission but, in the Year of the Flood, I take this liberty) These may not be the exact words but this is what I sang in the fog:
"She said, this is the time
She said, this is the place
She said, this is the place* my heart wants to be"
And then I started my day."
*the actual lyrics say "space", but that morning, "place" seemed so right.
Here is the music video, if you are interested.
My neighborhood is somewhat restored, with the vacant, flood ruined houses (mostly) demolished. And it's still the place my heart wants to be.
Now, the "BAE property" itself is being demolished, one of the last steps my neighborhood needs to be whole once again.
|Bradford Pears in front of BAE in process of being demolished, April 21|