Saturday, September 10, 2016

Local Saturday - A Taste of Homelessness after a Disaster September 11, 2011

Tomorrow is September 11, 2016, the 15th anniversary of what we in the United States call "9/11". 

But for my spouse and I, another September 11 - September 11, 2011 - was significant.  On September 10, 2011 we returned from a vacation in Maine, over seven hours away from home.  Earlier in the week, our neighborhood, along with many parts of our state, had flooded due to record rains from a tropical storm.  On September 10 we drove back, with bottled water and cleaning supplies.only to be turned away by police.

We drove to a mall on a hill, overlooking our neighborhood, not knowing what would happen next.  So close to home, but homeless for that night.  We didn't know where to go.  I finally called a work friend, knowing she wouldn't be able to put us up, but we didn't know what areas had flooded, and where to look for a place for the night. She gave us some information.  We looked and looked locally, stopping at many overwhelmed motels flooded (no pun intended) with people.  It was not a pretty sight.

Finally, thanks to a wonderful desk clerk at a Comfort Inn, we found a place to sleep, but first, had to drive another 35 miles after having driven so many miles from the state of Maine that day.

Just a little taste of what so many people go through for days, months, or years.

Here are the first of two posts from September 11, 2011.  The second one will be tomorrow.

September 11, 2011 - Almost in the Flood Zone

We did not make it back to our neighborhood.  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.  Stay tuned.

Wish us luck as we try to go back today.


  1. Salute to the rescue workers first of all. It is strange how the dates are same - of that global tragedy that occurred on this fateful day, and the homeless night you spent...Some things make me feel strange.....And then the plight of the homeless - who have nowhere to go, ever, let alone one night....

  2. I can relate to going trying to get home after an incident, though yours is much worse that what I went through. I was on my way back home when a tornado ripped through my community and again when the big blackout of 2003 happened. Glad you survived your disaster.

  3. There were critical flood situations in my hometown a month back and I was so worried about my parents. Salute to all the emergency workers and Army who work non stop to help people. Glad you were safe. It takes quiet some time to recover from natural disasters.

  4. Ah, floods! I can never forget the 26 July floods due to a cloudburst in Mumbai. My hubby slept in his car on top of a flyover the entire night. He was the luckiest of the lot. My heart goes out to the less fortunate ones during such natural calamities and a salute to the brave hearts who go out of their way to help the needy. For you, it must have been a double tragedy! It must be tough getting over it!

  5. It's like, do you stay in Maine and worry or do you try to come home to find no home to go to? What a nightmare.

  6. Had a friend who had to replace practically her whole house after a river flooded her town,it was a harsh time for them and took over a year to restore everything. Glad you didn't lose your home!


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