• At A Loss - The Devastation in Upstate NY

      You know, they say you can't ever experience something unless you see it with your own eyes, and that is so true.

      On Sunday August 28th Hurricane Irene decimated the small county that I live in in New York State. Of the three largest towns in the county, only one was left majorly unaffected by the historically unprecedented flooding that took place in the wake of the storm.

      While my family was largely safe and dry being in the Cobleskill area (The largest town and least affected) Middleburgh and Schoharie were absolutely destroyed by the flood waters. What were once quiet valleys were turned into miles wide rushing and churning rivers.

      We were without cable and internet for days, so the news of the devastation really didn't set in until later that week - even then the pictures and video while shocking and heart breaking are but a drop in a bucket when compared to actually being out there and seeing the path of destruction that the flood waters left behind.

      I took my camera with me on my trip today though the devastated areas, but I didn't end up taking too many pictures. I didn't want to stop the car and be a nuisance like I saw others doing. People who were dredging muck and belongings from their houses and businesses didn't need another jackass taking photos. I quietly drove on, shocked and heartbroken at the level of destruction.

      In my couple hours out there this is what I saw:

      Entire crops of corn flattened to nothing - unusable now for animals or people.

      Fields washed away, remnants of Pumpkin and squash vines tangles in masses around the few utility poles and trees that were standing.

      The only Grocery Store in both towns destroyed by the flood waters - the front smashed in and the entire front wall buckled and damaged. The inside... was covered with 7 feet + of water.

      Building after building and home after home being stripped down on the inside to the studs - all of the sheet rock and insulation in mucky piles in their front yards. HUGE mounds of dirty muddy belongings in piles like walls along every street.

      A corner gas station had to be razed to the ground after being hit so hard that it was left structurally unsound. Again with 7-8 feet of water rushing through it.

      A mobile home torn into pieces and wrapped around a stand of trees.

      An entire side of a house washed away to the foundation - what was once a stone wall - now an empty space being propped up to keep the house from falling in.

      Propane tanks in the highest branches of trees.

      Red Cross Disaster Relief trucks - from several places across the US. This one from Indiana.

      A farm on fire because the wet hay in the barn fermented and caught afire. A fire that is still smoldering days later.

      Roads that had to be quickly rebuilt because the rushing water washed them out 12-15 feet deep.

      Bridges with signs of being completely underwater in places where they are 20-30 feet above the normal level of the water...

      Chicken coops and sheds dropped along side roads, in trees, the middle of fields, or in tremendous tangles of torn up trees and foliage.

      A house that must have caught on fire during the flood.

      Piles of debris in an abandoned grocery store parking lot that seemed to be 30-40 feet high, and that is just a start in the town of Schoharie. The main and side streets are walled with debris from homes and businesses - crews with dump trucks, bulldozers, logging trucks - anything they can get their hands on going around and trying to remove as much of it as possible.

      In one spot I saw a garage sale sign on top of a pile a debris - even in misery and destruction there is that will to see the light in the darkest of situations.

      I wish I had more pictures to show you that I took myself, but I did find a bunch on the net that shows off better what I have put to words.

      I know that the strong people of my area will rebuild and eventually life will return to a semblance of normality. But things will never be the same as it once was here.

      I am going to be putting together a fundraiser through RDNA for those of you that want to help. More information will be available in the next couple of days on this.
      Comments 23 Comments
      1. sixus1's Avatar
        sixus1 -
        I grew up near some very flood prone areas of Kentucky. You never get used to seeing this stuff, even when it happens nearly every year. To be in a place that rarely gets serious flooding, let along something of this magnitude must be insane. My thoughts and prayers have been with you and your family since word of this thing hitting, and I hope you and yours are pulling through well. -Les
      1. Admin-Syyd's Avatar
        Admin-Syyd -
        I would certainly be glad to help in any way. There are no words. These are areas we traveled well and we, we were only visitors.
      1. Admin-Colm's Avatar
        Admin-Colm -
        I had no idea it was so bad in upstate New York..:-(
      1. nobody1954's Avatar
        nobody1954 -
        I live in Oneonta. We got off lucky. Just some rain and wind. On both sides and to the south, unbelievable. Just to prove this wasn't your usual flood. The covered bridge in Blenheim, one of the longest single span covered bridges in the world, stood for 153 years. Completely destroyed in one day. As with other landmarks I've known since childhood. At one point they thought the dam on the Gilboa reservoir had burst. Highway bridges completely washed out. The busy CP rail line through here was shut down for days. Still not back in full swing. My sister works in Margaretville, her son in Arkville. Coworkers lived in the affected area. I'm in for a donation when you're ready. Keep safe. More rain on the way.
      1. ellee's Avatar
        ellee -
        Wow, didn't realize it was that bad upstate. I'm in the The Bronx and some the A evacuation zone areas got some flooding but not nearly like this. Will donate for sure.

      1. SndCastie's Avatar
        SndCastie -
        Man that is bad will help with what I can
      1. Admin-Traveler's Avatar
        Admin-Traveler -
        Would you believe... it's flooding again
        I don't know the extent county wide, but part of our yard is under water (Not a foot, but it's slowly rising)
        I mean come on...
      1. nobody1954's Avatar
        nobody1954 -
        A lot of roads closed in Schoharie county.


        Heavy flooding with roads closed in Delaware county also. It can stop raining any time.

        Best of luck.
      1. Admin-Traveler's Avatar
        Admin-Traveler -
        Thanks for that article!
        The water is receding (again) - just can't get a break
      1. brahann's Avatar
        brahann -
      1. Admin-Traveler's Avatar
        Admin-Traveler -
        I have started a little "Help Upstate NY" program here on site:


        Look for the Heart at RuntimeDNA! - The proceeds of any product tagged with a heart icon will be donated whole or in part to help the recovery of Upstate NY in the wake of Hurricane Irene. Donate and get some cool products all at the same time!
      1. antaran's Avatar
        antaran -
        Thank you for your great effort! I hope your project is successful and helps a lot of people. Good luck and best wishes for a fast recovery for all who were affected.
      1. missb's Avatar
        missb -
        I have been wondering how bad it was for you guys upstate. We were hit bad down here in NYC, but not nearly as bad. For the most part I think our worst problem was no electricity in several areas for days. I, myself, was lucky. I didn't lose electricity, and since I live in an apartment building rather than a private house, my main concern rather than flooding was the winds and how they would react to my large picture window in the living room. To tape or not to tape. I decided not to, and I'm glad we didn't have any problems in that regard in this area.

        Thanks for letting us know you and yours are OK. I'll be looking through the store to do my bit later today.
      1. goldeneyes's Avatar
        goldeneyes -
        I grew up in upstate NY and to view all these photos of Irene's destructive force breaks my heart. Will certainly be looking for that little heart in the store. Every little bit makes a difference.
      1. natolii's Avatar
        natolii -
        I'm sorry, but Western Massachusetts and Vermont were hit equally hard by this. This is is not something that one region alone is dealing with. Hampden, Hampshire, Franklin, and Berkshire counties had been experiencing flood, Especially in the Springfield area which also is still recovering from the historic tornado back on June 1st. This has been felt even in Worcester County.

        The devastation in Mass is closer to home as I work in Energy Conservation and live in Mass myself. I got very lucky in that I live in an area of Mass that is used to this type of weather and was not hit as hard as we could have been. (And have been in the past - 1938, Hurricane Carol and Hurricane Bob)

        Western Mass is on the Upstate NY Border as well, so the devastation seen in Upstate is also seen here. Plus add to it the rains from TS Lee as it moved up the coast from LA...

        Yeah, Vermont and Western Mass are hurting just as bad.

        My vote is Red Cross, and designate that the funds be directed to relief efforts for areas devastated by Irene. You can do that. Given the broad base of people that are in the community that live in the effected areas, I believe this would be more than fair.

        My two cents.
      1. Admin-Traveler's Avatar
        Admin-Traveler -
        Hi, this started out as a way for me to help out the area that I live in. I am one valley over from the hardest hit areas in our county. I have friends and family that are mired in this mess and just needed to do *something*. I didn't mean it to slight other areas that are going through the same thing. So I am renaming this to Help the Northeast, and we will find a suitable charity to donate the money to.
      1. natolii's Avatar
        natolii -
        I didn't think you were, I'm just of the same mind set for my area. I was in work monday after the storms. and heard from one of my field reps in Shellbourne Falls. He couldn't even get out to work because of washed out bridges.

        I just got lucky in that I didn't lose power and I live in a town that is all hills. So where my building is, I'm not in the lowest part of of the city. Still a lot of the city had lost power and it took NGRid and Nstar nearly a week to fully restore power to that effected areas in the state.

        Something I heard a lot of in talking with customers.

        I work in energy conservation and I hear about homes that have been damaged by the weather, power outages, etc... Directly from the people calling in to see if there is a way to help pay for the damage, financing, rebates, etc...

        This is what I deal with on a daily basis. The Utilities do have programs to help with some of the work, but the major repairs have to be financed or pay for through other means. With the Tornadoes, we were able to get ARRA Funding to help the victims there get 0% finance loans to help.

        It is seriously an awesome idea and I wasn't knocking it at all.

        Quote Originally Posted by Admin-Traveler View Post
        Hi, this started out as a way for me to help out the area that I live in. I am one valley over from the hardest hit areas in our county. I have friends and family that are mired in this mess and just needed to do *something*. I didn't mean it to slight other areas that are going through the same thing. So I am renaming this to Help the Northeast, and we will find a suitable charity to donate the money to.
      1. nobody1954's Avatar
        nobody1954 -
        Sometimes, disasters are very personal. I see also see nothing wrong with trying to help out family and friends. Heaven knows it's a poor area. Sure, they will get help with temporary shelter, clothing, food, but after that..... Pretty much the whole economic base is shattered. I think you should stick to your original plan. I bought the chrysalis and the orb stalks. I raised monarch butterflies as a kid, so the chrysalis was the perfect touch. As for the orbs, well, you can never have too many things that can reach out and touch someone (heh, heh, heh). Much easier to use than "easy posing" (never could find the 'easy' part). Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your effort. Good luck.
      1. Admin-Bea's Avatar
        Admin-Bea -
        I think that Eric's idea of helping a small personal area that he knows about is an excellent one. For people donating it gives a "face" to what they are donating to. Everyone knows that there are many other areas that have been affected but if we can help in some small way in a small area that has beeen hit hard then I for one would be delighted.
      1. natolii's Avatar
        natolii -
        And Mass is personal to me. I deal with people all over the state everyday. These are my customers, neighbors and family...

        However, you wish to handles this, I have my opinion and it doesn't mean I don't support the idea.

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