Looking Back at Hurricane Irene

by Gunguy

I used to live several blocks away from Zone A in NYC. When Mayor Bloomberg issued a mandatory evacuation for Zone A before Hurricane Irene came ashore my lady and I decided to go upstate to the Catskills to avoid any potential flooding. We were located at ground level and we had little faith that our apartment would not get flooded. As luck would have it our apartment was fine when we got back. Unfortunately for a lot of residents in the Catskill Region they were on the receiving end of Hurricane Irene.

After we got to our destination we went to the Fresh Town in Margaretville, NY to do some groceries and stock up on water before the hurricane hit NYC. We expected some rain and some wind. I have been going to the Catskill region with my family for 26 years and we never thought that a hurricane would cause any damage at all. Unfortunately I was severely wrong. It started to rain around 1 pm or so in the afternoon on our way back from the store on Saturday.

When we got home we turned on the TV and watched the reports along the East coast. We were hopeful that he storm would slow down and not hit New York State too hard. I kept calling my family in the city to get periodic updates. They said everything was going ok and that it wasn’t that bad. When I called on Sunday the 28th they said that everything was great. There was no flooding in their homes and the sun was out.

Meanwhile in the Catskills the rain was relentless and showed no sign of stopping. Previously it rained all night and through out the day on Sunday. We heard local radio reports that some local towns were flooding but we didn’t know how severe it was. We were loosing power intermittently and finally around 5pm on Sunday we lost the power all together. I cooked our dinner on a gas grill in the rain while wearing my water proof boots, jacket and pants. After dinner we listened to the radio by candle light and played monopoly. We decided to go to bed early and wake up in the morning and get a fresh start on our journey home to NYC.

When we woke up we were surprised that the power was restored.  We quickly realized the day before that we were really fond of electricity and flowing water and we were very happy to have it back. While watching the news we saw video of a river raging through Margaretville. We saw the CVS Pharmacy and the Fresh Town adjoined to it being completely ravaged by water. It was heart breaking. Fresh Town came in a short while ago and took over for the A & P that was in town previously. The company did an outstanding job in renewing the building and having a great selection of produce and beer. Now the whole building was destroyed by the worst natural disaster that I ever personally witnessed in my life.

After witnessing the flooding in Margaretville, NY and the near complete annihilation of Prattsville, NY on TV I started to get seriously concerned regarding our departure from the Catskills. The irony wasn’t lost on me and my significant other. We went to the Catskills to escape the potential damage in NYC to only find ourselves in the middle of a serious natural disaster with almost no way out.

We packed up our things and closed up the house and headed out on route 30 to find that it was closed. After speaking to a NY State Trooper we found out that Route 23 north of us was closed too, as well as parts of the NY State Thruway. He suggested we head back home and hunker down till the roads were cleared. Both of us had work the next day so we decided to take the long way home. We traveled west through the mountains to Oneonta, NY and then towards Binghamton, NY before catching route 8 south and then onto to 86 west to the Palisades Parkway south bound into NYC. The total trip time with rest stops and traffic was 7 and 1/2 hours, which is about 4 and 1/2 hours longer than it would take usually. We got home safe and sound and we learned some lessons which I will go over shortly.

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