Saturday, July 29, 2017

Local Saturday - The Reunion

It is five years since some first cousins and their families gathered at my home in Westover, near Johnson City, New York for a mini family reunion.  We are having  another one today. 

We have been through so much, all of us, since the last reunion.  And we are five years older.  If we have one five years from now, how many of us will be able to come, I wonder, and will we all be alive?

After the 2012 reunion was over, I wrote this blog post.  So hard to believe it's been six years since a flood devastated my neighborhood, and other parts of the Triple Cities of Upstate New York.


The building below, once the largest wood framed structure in the United States, was torn down last year.  It was ruined by the flood.  Only vacant land remains.  I was reminded of this, as I had to rewrite the directions to get to our house.

Former BAE Industries, Westover, NY, July 3, 2014
This is the post I wrote after the 2012 cousins reunion, on the eve of the first anniversary of the flood - September 8 and 9, 2011.  It's a post of trauma, but also of hope.

Day 29 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost.

On the Cover of the Rolling....Flood Book (written in August of 2012)

It is said that everyone has their 15 minutes of fame.  Sometimes, that fame is a welcome thing.  Don't you want to be famous?  Doesn't everyone?

Sometimes, it is your neighborhood that becomes famous.

Many times, you just as soon wish it had never happened.

That's what I wish, every time I leave my house near Johnson City, New York and walk or travel more than about three or four blocks.

I pass buildings that became vacant 11 months ago today, and are still vacant.  Some don't have interior walls.  Some are still filled with debris.  Some have "For Sale" signs.  Some still have bushes encrusted with flood mud.

There is the former credit union building.  The former day care center.  The former doctor's practice. The former 600,000. square foot factory building that once held 1300 workers.  The former adult day care center.  The sagging houses that will never be occupied again.  One entire street is almost devoid of occupants, with just a handful of hardy souls trying to reclaim their lives.

The out of business and for sale tire store whose mechanics nourished my son's love of car repair especially touches my heart.  The former.....the former.....

Many businesses have reopened.  The Home Depot.  The Ollies.  The window contractor.  The Aldi.  Our local pediatrician. A dentist.  A massage therapist.   My beloved Unicorn Electronics.  Wild Birds Unlimited.

We must look towards the future and I usually do, but today I look back one last time.

This past weekend, I had several cousins visit from the New York City area, Pennsylvania, and (by Skype) Florida, plus the midwest and Texas.  We had a lot of fun, and we talked about many things.  Still, a certain book I had taken out of the library drew a number of fascinated readers.  They paged through the pictures while my young adult son provided the narration.

One of the cousins graduated last year from Binghamton University.  She looked at pictures of places she knew. She had graduated in May of 2011 and the pictures were taken during the period of September 7, 8 and 9, 2011 during the flooding caused by Tropical Storm Lee,  It was a book about the flood.  If she had still been going to the college, she may well have volunteered at the Events Center, which became one of the evacuation centers.

My neighborhood is on the cover of the flood book.  My house is even visible (no, not telling you which one) in the aerial photo.  (We were one of the lucky houses, being slightly higher in elevation).

Our neighborhood of Westover, along with several other areas (some of which suffered much worse than we did) have become a symbol of the flood.  Let us name them:  Owego. Castle Gardens.  Twin Orchards.  The Southside of Binghamton.  There are others.  I really don't know why our neighborhood was chosen for its 15 minutes of fame, but it was.

When I first found out our neighborhood would be on the cover, it was emotionally very hard.  It was just a couple of months after the flood, and my feelings were still too raw.  But, when I saw the book at the library this past July, I knew it was time.  Time to put the flood where it belonged, in the past.

Time to read the book.  Time to move on.

So we looked at the book, and then went on to much happier things. We had such a good time that my sides ached the next day.

I wish the flood had never happened.  I wish I could have had the power to prevent the storm from doing what it did to our part of upstate NY and parts of several other states.  But wishes have no power.  Only actions.  We have come so far, and we should be proud.

Next month will be the one year anniversary.  I will write about the flood recovery one last time.  And then I hope to move on permanently to other blog topics.

It is time.

2 comments:

  1. This post just makes me shiver. Wishing your neighbourhood hadn't achieved fame in this way. Kudos to those hardy souls who have rebuilt and stayed. Tears for those who couldn't. Heartbreaking mental images!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I hope your family reunion went well.

    ReplyDelete

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