Category Archives: Hurricane Irene
A spot of sunlight in Irene-ravaged Prattsville: the Tavern, once the center of local fraternizing (folks were still sitting out front of its shuttered doors after Hurricane Irene ripped through the Catksills), will be reopening today. I bet it’s going to be a great scene. Go up there and get a drink!
Tomorrow night, the Lower East Side Girls’ Club is hosting a tamale dinner to benefit the Goshen-based Angel Family Farm, which was devastated by Tropical Storm Irene. Suggested donation is $10, and you get to meet the Angels!
Big trucks, big rocks, clawing roads from rivers…. If it isn’t (I’m tempted here to write “ain’t”) enough to fill you with the love of the fine folks who’ve been fixing the roads, this video from Jo Ostrander shows the incredible work it’s taken throughout the Catskills to recover from Irene. Oh, and there’s a commercial country soundtrack. Downstaters beware, moving here has given me a secret love of mainstream country music and most things redneck. The people who’ve repaired the roads have worked 7 days a week, pulling long days. Remember them the next time you drive up. And those machines.
And speaking of DIY Catskills fundraising: Jimmy’s No. 43, the East Village bar/gastropub of the moment, is holding a Pig Out event on the weekend of Oct 15 in Jeffersonville and Callicoon Center. (Orientation points: that’s in Sullivan County, near Bethel.) It’s $35 for advance tix, $45 if you’re not a planner, and all money goes to Farmhearts, a non-profit helping farm families in the Catskills.
The event will feature four chefs roasting eight Catskills-raised whole pigs in open pits, plus local wine and beers and veggie sides. Tix for Pig Mountain Catskills can be bought here. For a schedule of the activities, click here.
The New York Times gave a shout out to a post-Irene bright spot: DIY efforts, often organized through social media, to fund raise for hard-hit Upstate communities. While Upstaters are being forced to wait for the federal government to step in with more aid, locals are organizing everything from pig roasts to fancy-dress hikes to help their neighbors. Yeah for ingenuity!
Last week we got a little bit of well deserved flack for posting an outdated photo of Phoenicia, just after Irene flooded the town. So a reader sent in some photos of Phoenicia today — still recovering, but in many ways back on its feet. I for one can’t wait to get up there!
If you have any photos of your upstate travels to share, please send ’em in!
The flood. Life in Margaretville now feels measured in before and after. And, the after I’ve been avoiding writing about. Nothing feels profound enough. I can never say enough and my take is not important enough. So where to start? Maybe with the piles of rubbish stacked on Route 28. Among the tires and shipping pallets, lumber, even an intact round wooden picnic table, was the cerulean blue siding of the Valkyrian Motel in Fleischmanns. It floated downstream, killing the one woman left inside. The sight is incredibly sad, the building reduced to stacks of kindling. The temporary flood dump in Arkville is testimony to the destruction: mountains of debris – refrigerators, furniture and trees all separated out. Or, there’s the person who set fire to his building on Main Street last weekend to collect on insurance. Everything feels transformed and oddly normal at the same time. But, when the air raid siren for the volunteer fire department goes off, you get an inner quaking of not-again.
The grocery store: gone, CVS collapsed and a row of shops on Main Street condemned with police tape around the doors that now stand perpetually open. One of the biggest issues here is the housing stock. Not the kind of fancy for second home-owners, but apartments and trailers, places lived in by the folks with the least. If that condemned row on Main Street is torn down (along with its 25 apartments) rebuilding there will be virtually impossible. Building standards would require it to be at least 8 feet high, the height of the highest flood.
The day after the flood I found an undamaged red, white and blue striped candle in the Freshtown parking lot. Now that candle is just the sort of thing I’d have thought tacky the day before, but among the slabs of torn-up asphalt, it seemed like hope itself. I put it at the foot of the store’s mascot, a chainsaw bear I wrote about in my first post on Margaretville. If anything is a marker of pre or post, it’s that the bear remains, and the area is tenacious in its rebuilding.
The region is open and businesses need support. If you love (or even like) Upstate New York, this is the time to visit. Leaves are turning, foliage beginning to take that brilliant hue of fall, and money is needed. Things are back to normal, or whatever the new normal is. And, despite the lingering raw feelings, businesses all along Route 28 are open – including most in Margaretville, Arkville and Fleischmanns.
At last some good news! After Hurricane Irene, hiking and camping sites across the Catskills were shut down due to dangerous conditions. Just in time for fall foliage, most have reopened (though some trail heads remain closed). The DEP has set up a special page on its website to check on the status of individual trails. Click here for deets.
Restaurants in both upstate and downstate New York are donating up to 10% of proceeds on September 25th to post-Irene restoration efforts with Dine Out Irene. Lots of the restaurants are in Westchester and other not-quite-upstate counties, which is a nice thing: it’s like the whole state — okay, the whole eastern part of New York State — can come together to help recover from the devastating events that Tropical Storm Irene had on the Catskills…and have a good meal, too. One the jump: the list of non-NYC participating restaurants.
Instead of the usual spread of produce on their Prospect Park farmers market table, Evolutionary Organics, based in New Paltz, had these sad hand-drawn signs. Kira Kinney, who runs Evolutionary Organics, also handed out a flyer explaining her situation to her customers. Nineteen of her twenty-two acres are under water and much of her fall crop is lost.
Evolutionary Organics is particularly well-known for their delicious heirloom tomatoes. (I bought some on Saturday, and yep, they were delicious.) If you see Kira’s stand at the Union Square or Prospect Park farmers’ markets, pick up a batch. Click here for a great example of how to use them.