31 August 2011

Prayers for Upstate New York

Those of you who read this blog regularly know that I spend time every summer in the Catskills. The Catskills were devastated by flooding following Hurricane Irene, which dumped over a foot of water on them in one day. It had already been a wet summer, and the saturated ground and high creeks and rivers just could not absorb the additional water. Flash floods raged through picturesque towns, knocking houses off their foundations, flattening crop fields, killing livestock. Fortunately very few human lives were lost, but there were a few. My little town, where my parents' house is, was spared, but nearby communities suffered chest-hight floodwater, bridges and roads washed away along with people's livelihoods.

The little towns I drive through every summer, the farm stands I frequent, museums and stores and restaurants are gone. I am waiting to hear what became of the piano museum in Hunter, which I so happily visited six weeks ago, and whether any of their half-dozen playable 19th century instruments survived. Based on the pictures of the town, I suspect they did not. I am also waiting to hear about the damage on the pretty little Catholic church in Phoenicia. I bet the rebuilt historic railroad there was washed away, too, the fruit of many years' labor by volunteers.

As so often occurs with natural disasters, the regions hardest hit were the ones that could least afford it. Very few there have flood insurance, and Greene County was already an economically depressed area. Some of those destroyed businesses will never reopen. Some of the destroyed houses will never be rebuilt or repaired.

Here are a few images of the devastation: http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2011/08/30/us/20110830_HURRICANE-2.html

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