We’ve reached a somber anniversary here in the Catskills – it’s been 10 years this week since Hurricane Irene came through, causing extreme flooding and damage to our region.
The storm was strongest on August 28th. By the next day, the sun was out, but the water stayed high for quite a while. The damage, of course, took months, in some cases years, to recover from.
Few things explain the severity (and strangeness) of the storm quite as well as this video, in which a heavy round bale floats along Main Street in Margaretville and turns at the light.
Our home is elevated well away from our backyard brook, but it flooded the fields, and we watched many trees sail by that day. The roads were washed out on either side in multiple places, so there was no way to get to town for several days. According to my diary, the power came back on for us the night of the 30th. At the time, it seemed like a lot longer!
Of course, for many others, it was much worse, with the effects lasting well into the coming weeks, months, and years. Flooding was bad throughout the Catskills, but many in Delaware, Greene, and Ulster counties had an especially rough time. Floodplain houses had significant water damage, and some families lost their homes altogether when they were either swept away or pulled off their foundations.
A report from five years later showed they were still dealing with the aftermath. Though we don’t hear about it as often anymore, many still cope with the loss of their lifelong homes and irreplacable belongings.
Flooding in the Catskills is not new, as major floods have been recorded every few decades since the first settlers arrived. Of course, it does seem like they’re getting more frequent and severe as the years go by.
There was another hurricane scare just earlier this week. Every time one comes near the northeast, I think most of us get a little tense, wondering if it will be another one like Irene.
Here are a few pictures my dad took in the days that followed. We were shocked seeing the photos at home, realizing just how much damage had been done!
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