This is a long and personal post. You don't have to feel obligated in any way to read it. I just needed to vent a little. I'm just so lucky and grateful after what all of my friends have gone through.
As most of you know, on September 5th it started raining here in my home town and didn't stop until Sept. 9th. By the morning of Sept. 7, our first day of school, most schools were closing by noon due to fear of not getting students and staff home. Our town was flooding. Bad. My school didn't release early but I was fortunate enough to have a kind principal who got on the CB for me and tracked down my kids who are both middle school students. We were told by their bus driver that she didn't think she could get to our road. If not she'd try to bring them to me at the elementary school. Minutes later she radioed back that she made it through the water and onto my road but after seeing our driveway didn't feel safe letting the kids off there. (It was washing out) "What should I do?" I relayed the message to drop them at the neighbors and let them walk through the yard since my husband had already made it home. Upon hearing that my road was still accessible for at least a few more minutes my principal said "Go now. If you can't get home come back here." That's how it began for my family. We all made it home safe...to an unflooded home. We were one of the few. So many of our friends were not so lucky.
Some of you have asked me for an update. It's far from over. I'll fill you in with a few of our closest friends.
One friend immediately went to work on gutting their home...for possible future sale. (hopefully)
They're not going back. After 3 times now for them, they couldn't take it any more and have found a new home.
Our friends, the fire chief and his family, who live just down the street from me have now flooded twice. They're currently packing and moving to higher ground. Again, HOPING to be able to sell the old house. Who knows?
Another friend down the street from me is still staying with family and has no idea when they'll be back in their house. Water all the way up to the second floor. Yesterday, she had her van parked on the street where they were having Thanksgiving dinner. They heard a crash and when they ran to the window found that her van had been hit head on and was pushed down the street. The driver left the car and ran off. I haven't heard yet if they found him. Ginger!! If you didn't have bad luck you'd have no luck at all. At least they weren't in the car I guess.
The last one I'll share is my friend Amy. I've known Amy for years. She's a kind, sweet person who's not had it easy. Her husband has MS and her mother also lives with her. This is the second time that they've lost it all. Finished basement and first floor flooded. They were staying with her husband's parents while the house was gutted. They moved back in a few days ago and are going to live on the second floor until the renovations can be made. They have heat and just days ago the water was finally cleared to drink. Most homes had raw sewage and petroleum etc. in them from septic tanks, fuel tanks and cars that were flooded. They are waiting on the stove which should be in very soon. She lost her artificial trees (they have to have fake due to allergies) and all of their Christmas ornaments. The other day at lunch she was telling us that she's grateful to be going back to her home but that she's not looking forward to Christmas because they can't make getting a tree their priority with everything else that's going on. Little did she know that some of "Santa's elves" had already taken care of that!! A few of us at work raised some money for her to buy a new tree and we all bought her ornaments for it. Hand chosen or hand made just for her. She just sat and cried when we gave it to her on Wednesday. A nice touch was that her son who's home from college had come to pick her up so he got to see this. We told her to take the bags home and unwrap them with her family. She said she's been feeling very "Grinchy" but now she's looking forward to Christmas. She's a big Green Bay Packers fan so this is the ornament I put in the basket. I didn't make the ornament but I did make the box.
By the way. She got the news from her insurance company earlier this week. Structural damage was $48,000. They'll recieve $32,000 for repairs. Inside contents were valued at $32,000. They're getting $14,000 to replace that. The insurance company is claiming depreciation. It's like being kicked while you're down. They can't afford to move...they'll barely be able to rebuild.
Here's a little something I got from the teacher that the kids and I helped gut her home...
The following are excerpts from an article written by former Owego resident Mark Hare.
HERE is a link to the entire article if you're interested.
The road back
This was no routine weather event. It was the second major flood in five years, and far worse than the 2006 disaster. Eighty percent of the 1,600 homes in the village were damaged or destroyed. Nearly every downtown commercial building sustained at least some damage. There is a critical shortage of housing, including rentals. No one knows how many families have or will abandon homes their insurance coverage will not fully restore. Jim Raftis, a family friend for 50 years, says that in the days after the flood he hadn't seen so many darkened homes since World War II.
This next excerpt is about one of my son's best friends. They were able to find an apartment for now.
One of those they (high school students from Livonia) helped was McCann, whose house was moved off its foundation. He was surveying family items stored in the garage when a team from Livonia came down his street.
"After the flood in '06," McCann says, "we took my wife Heather's wedding dress and had it professionally sealed. We hung it in the rafters of the garage to keep it out of the basement."
Just before the students arrived, McCann discovered the dress, swept from the rafters, settled in the toxic mud Lee deposited as the waters receded.
For days, McCann says, he and his neighbors, not knowing where — or whether — to start, had met in front of their homes, stood in silence and wept.
On that Saturday, Livonia reached out to him, and McCann said yes.
"Everything the water touches has to go," says Nicole Leinders, 17, a senior at Livonia. "You could see that his entire life was gone. But he was finally accepting that he had to deal with it."
Hour after hour, McCann and these kids he'd never met carried the wreckage of a family life — toys, children's books, clothing, Heather's wedding dress, photos and yearbooks and spare furniture — to the curb.
"Those Livonia kids kept me going," McCann says. "I couldn't do it alone, I needed them there."
"That day, we all became Livonia Bulldogs here," he says, referring to the school's mascot.
"It was devastating to see people's possessions all sitting by the road," says Mary Cicero, 17, also a Livonia senior. "But it was so good to be there. I hope we can go back."
One house down the street from me has already been torn down. 3 more sit with condemned notices on them and last week one more was boarded up. I'm not sure if they're coming back. This is what I drive past every single day on my way to work.