As Hurricane Irene made it’s way up the east cost, it seemed as though upstate NY was going to get nothing more than a long rain storm. On Sunday afternoon, during the rain, everything was presumably fine. I was working on a project for LockerPulse one minute. The next minute there were firefighters in full uniform banging on our door telling us that we needed to evacuate immediately because the area was going to flood. Despite being less than a mile away from the Mohawk River, we’ve never experienced the slightest bit of flooding (and I’ve lived here since the apartments opened three years ago).
My girlfriend and I quickly grabbed a few bags, threw everything we could into them, sprinted out to my car, and took off for my parents house about 20 minutes away. With road closures to every road surrounding us imminent, all I could think about was getting out safely so that we wouldn’t have to stay in a shelter for an extended amount of time. Thankfully, the drive wasn’t too bad and we made it safely.
And then the waiting started. For the next several days we watched the news and saw the destruction unfold. Seeing nearby residents houses completely totaled, seeing some of our favorite local restaurants and shops destroyed. While we get a lot of snow up here, we almost never get anything resembling a natural disaster in the Northeast. It was a very surreal feeling.
Every few hours I spoke with the police department or the property managers. By Monday afternoon we had a pretty good idea that our area was hit hard. As the roads started to open across the area, everything near us was still closed with no timetable in sight. Then my girlfriend was sent this picture on Facebook of our apartment building:
That’s when we realized just how bad it was. Unfortunately her car was in one of those car ports and might be totaled (we’re waiting to hear back from the insurance company). Fortunately though, we live on the third floor so we weren’t overly concerned about losing our stuff. Because of the potential damage to the building, I began to wonder if we’d ever get to live there again. The frustration continued Tuesday as we received almost no new news. I’ve never been more frazzled and scatterbrained in my life.
Then finally Wednesday morning we were told that the water had receded, cleanup crews were on site, and our apartment would be ready by Thursday. We decided to take a drive out on Wednesday afternoon to assess the damage on the car. What we saw was completely devastating. Our neighbors on the first floor lost everything. The water levels reached roughly up to my waist. Seeing families sort through what’s left of their belongings is one of the saddest things I’ve ever experienced. It’s eerie to watch truck after truck come by and take away the water damaged stuff.
In the grand scheme of things, this isn’t that big of an inconvenience for us. We spent four nights at my parents house. Words can’t express how accommodating they were to us. I am so thankful that I have such a great family. My girlfriend’s car might be totaled, but it looks like her insurance will cover it one way or another. In the meantime we’ll rent her a car. We had to throw away all of the contents of our refrigerator. But otherwise our life will be more or less back to normal shortly.
Unfortunately there are many many people who weren’t so lucky. They will have to rebuild from scratch. Since most homeowners insurance policies don’t cover flooding, our neighbors and local businesses will especially be relying on the government and the community to help. Mike named the American Red Cross of Northeastern New York his Monthly Charity. I’ve also made a donation. They do great work in times of need like this – providing shelter, food, and counseling services for the displaced, and aid to help get them back on their feet, as well as cleaning crews to help sanitize people’s homes, doing blood drives to help supply hospitals, and much more. I know it’s a cliche, but every little bit really does help. If you’re in the Albany area, you can make donations during checkout at your local Price Chopper grocery store. You can also text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Or you can donate online.