Saturday, April 23, 2016

This (is) The Time #AtoZChallenge

In October of 2011, over a month after a historic flood hit much of the part of New York State where I live, I wrote this email to a friend.

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
 I see a new day rising.


  1. Tough when things like that happen. One can rebuild or not. But the scars remain.

    1. Most of the businesses returned but, yes, the scars remain. Especially when it rains hard.

  2. From Sandy-ravaged Long Island, we understand. When it happens elsewhere, we are sad. When it happens to your home town, it feels surreal.

    1. Yes, indeed. I know you understand. I know people who were affected by Sandy, too, and I visited Red Hook (Brooklyn) that following spring. Smelled the smell I knew too well.

  3. Oh my God, nature and her fury! Hope your neighbourhood bounces back really really fast. Love.

    1. Reassuring you - this happened in 2011. Although some of the scars in our neighborhood remain, we are moving forward.

  4. So sad. Hope that the rebuilding made your roots even stronger.

  5. What a difficult time for your community. I am glad that things continue to inch toward restoration or a new beginning.

  6. Our town of Bonners Ferry flooded in 1948. But the kootenai river been fairly high in recent years.

    Coffee is on

  7. That;s a learning story.

    Here are my takes with T
    Teej (Festivals of India)
    Tears Deceitful (Poetry)
    Do spare some time.

  8. Hi there, Alana. I've never been through a flood so I can't imagine what your community went through. It sounds like BAE was a place to help your community get back on its feet? I don't know what BAE means. That is a long time to be without a home. I had friends in NY during Hurricane Sandy. That was another bad one. I hope your community comes out the other side stronger than ever.

  9. It is so difficult to see such devastation. And so inspiring to see the rebuilding. Happy to see your neighborhood's rebirth.

  10. It's a sign of a strong community when you can rebuild after something so devastating.


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