Tuesday, October 24, 2017

This Was the Place

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  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. 

So many people this year have been impacted by three hurricanes in our country (and Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, whose residents are our citizens).  They have a hard road ahead.

This email is intensely personal to me, but I shared it once, during the Blogging from A to Z Challenge in 2016, and I would like to share it again.

The "BAE" in this email was a defense contractor plant, housed in what was once the largest wood framed structure in the United States, now torn down and replaced by vacant land beloved by grazing Canada geese.  At the time of this email, contractors were (unsuccessfully) trying to rescue the building from the flood damage.
Burning bush in front of former BAE structure, fall of 2013
"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.

 The song. 

Day 24 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost


  1. Someone wrote yesterday how nostalgia helps. I countered that oftentimes amnesia is better. This, to me, is one such instance. (Not that we shouldn't learn from this experience and develop infrastructure improvements to preclude such devastation!)

  2. Natural disasters really rock our world don't they Alana - they make us realize how temporary everything is but also how resilient we are at recovering and moving forward.

  3. Flooding is so destructive. I hope the recovery has proceeded well and will do so in the Caribbean this year.

  4. Beautiful post and yes, the past couple months has done awful things to our Country. I just pray it gets better soon.

  5. A testimony to the resilience of man. To take tragedy in stride and keep on trying. I'm grieved that these things happen, but it is so wonderful to see how we bound back.

  6. Blogspot sites usually work well with Chrome. I can't see why this one didn't, but it's not behaving well at all.

  7. If only these things happened once and then not again. But they keep happening over and over again.

  8. I was once having some work done on my house and the contractor asked me "what do you think is most destructive to a house?" He told me it's water. We don't think about how destructive water can be until we see it with our own eyes. So sad.

  9. We can't survive without water but water also has such destructive power. It is beautiful and dangerous. It sustains life and it takes life. I hope that everyone who has been the victim of flooding is able to recover from the disasters.

  10. It is sad to see the destruction or abandonment of places we have loved. I live in earthquake country and saw the effects of a bad one where I live back in 2003. Still, though, I'd rather go through an earthquake than a flood. My heart is with all those who are suffering through the aftermath of the recent floods and fires.

  11. Thats sad to note that such a buiding is being damaged and would probably be lost to us! Nature is severely hamstrung by our destructive consumption patterns and we only have ourselves to blame for this!


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