Tag Archives: flooding

The Year of No Summer

July 1, 2013

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Wait a minute… didn’t I name another blog post with this same title last year? And the year before, too? And the year before that?

Oh, it’s been a long decade. :S

Upstate New York has been plagued with rain. And over-development has created massive flooding problems for communities that, before, were well able to manage extremely wet weather.

Not no more.

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This is a real miracle– we only got 12 inches of water this time! Photo taken after waters had subsided. In the past, we’ve had 3 feet. And we were somewhat prepared, so loss of property was minimal. It’s taken us several days to clean out the muck, however.

Basement F1

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All this was from the June 28 flood. Communities like Herkimer, Fort Plain, and others were literally, completely under water. Some folks were carried off and we’re still looking for them.

I drove by a neighbor’s the other day and found this gem.

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It’s getting crazy. We’ve had over 10 inches for June. July looks to be as soggy, too. Many of us have not been able to plant our vegetable gardens, as we had a late May hard frost and then the rains came and haven’t stopped. Now that it’s July, our summer is nearly over.

It’s another year for the history books.

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Brrrrr

March 26, 2012

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Has everyone been experiencing an unusually warm and early spring, or is it just us here in the Northeast? Spring is about 5 to 6 weeks early here, “unprecedented,” say the weather gurus.

My daffodils are blooming and the lilacs are budding, but it’s the weeds that are really thriving. After all the years of flooding we’ve had, my yard is filled with weeds. I used to have such a nice lawn, nice gardens. There’s no way I can manage all these weeds. So if you can’t beat them, join them, right? Weeds can be very decorative…. well, kinda. I think there’s no redeeming burdock, except that the roots are edible.

Anyway, the heat was climbing into the 80s so I unpacked my summer clothes and wore shorts for a time. I even unpacked the box fan to run in the window! But then, all of a sudden– WHAM. Winter is making a comeback! It’s freezing today, with the thermometer barely getting above freezing. And looks like a bit of snow is on the way, too. No worries, though. Even though I unpacked my shorts, I didn’t pack up my warm winter clothes. This IS the Northeast, after all.

So the weather gurus are in their glory. They don’t usually get this excited about weather except when there’s a huge lake effect snowstorm on the way. And as if we just CAN’T get enough of the weather, they bring up the “drought” index.

Seriously?! Drought in New York State?! It appears that the word “drought” has different meanings across the country. I always through a drought was a long time (years) with very little or no rainfall– you know, The Dust Bowl and Grapes of Wrath and all. But here in NYS, “drought” means more like “a few weeks without our usual deluges of rain.” So we haven’t had our usual 5 inches of rain this month— who’s worried about a drought?

Yes, yes, I know local farmers rely on rain. But if there’s one thing New York State does not lack, it’s rainfall. How I wish we could import it, we’d be rich! I remember a few years ago we had a very dry summer with very little rainfall (for about 2 whopping months). Our garden and lawn thrived, though. We’d redirected our sump pump pipes to the gardens, and poked holes in the pipes. Drought or not, that sump pump runs ALL THE TIME. So we had plenty of water and the plants grew enormously. I’m never worried about drought. I welcome it, actually. But that’s just my own little world so I still hope for rain for the farmers’ sakes.

How is your weather in your area? Is it another crazy year of unpredictable events and weird patterns?

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Good to Be Home

November 30, 2011

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We were away for a few days, traveling to the rural outback of Upstate New York (Schoharie County). This county ranks — in my estimation — as one of the most rural areas of Upstate New York. And these folks are not just rural, they are fiercely rural. No fancy, high-falutin’, city slicking city life here. Oh, these folks appreciate progress, just without the urban arrogance and unrealistic reliance on “the grid.”

It was our first time Livvy was alone in her 3.6 years she’s been with us. Well, the dogs and the bird were home, too, but they don’t count. I had the webcam set on surveillance and Livvy mostly sat by the back door and in my desk chair, waiting for us. Nearly broke my heart. I couldn’t bring her with us this time, though. We were staying at a nice hotel and would be strolling through caves during the day. Not exactly a cat vacation.

But Livvy survived and she is all lovey and cuddly now. šŸ™‚ Hey, I could get used to this!

While we traveled through Schoharie County, we saw many, many homes devastated by the flooding from Hurricanes Irene and Lee. These folks were hit the worst– bridges and homes and barns and cows just floated away. This is a rural area where money is always tight and work is always hard. New York’s Upstate economy really shows here, and then the floods came and made bad to worse. I saw some homes that were skeletal, just barely able to stand upright.

Lots of our photos were taken from the moving car, so they didn’t turn out very well. We saw yards filled with garbage bags and strewn tree limbs, boulders and rocks in weird places, and bulldozers everywhere.

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In one area, I drove past a small group of trees on the bank of the Schoharie River. The trees were literally covered with tons and tons of white feathery strips of what appeared to be toilet paper and paper towels (me being a suburbanite). As we rounded the bend, we saw that the white stuff was not toilet paper. It was the plastic wraps that go around hay bales. Large hay bales were clogging one area of the river bank, and great strips of the shredded white wrapping hung from the TOPS of the 20-foot trees. My heart ached for these folks. Wow.

Yet what makes this area so remarkable is the amazing cheerfulness of the people. EVERY SINGLE PERSON I met was cheerful and generous. Even when they spoke of their losses (some folks lost everything on the first floor), they smiled and said, “Thank God, no one was killed” or “It’s just stuff.” Now that’s an amazing community. No self-pity and wailing for government help. Help is welcome but these people weren’t going to sit on their tears and wait for FEMA. They just sucked it up and are starting again. And wherever we traveled, the folks were so generous. The coffee shop gave us two free coffees. The hotel gave us a free breakfast. The New York Power Authority Visitors Center gave us free coffee travel mugs and light bulbs. I can only admire their generosity, grace, and happiness. I also wonder if Schoharie County has the most churches of all New York’s 62 counties, because it seemed there was a steeple peeping out from the farms and forests every mile or so.

Houses come and go but communities are what make or break a town. It’s good to be home again but I can’t get those folks out of my mind. I understand flooding problems– yes, indeed. But I’ve never had to rebuild EVERYTHING like these folks have. Ya got guts, Schoharie County folks. God bless you all. šŸ™‚

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Collective Groanings from Central NY

September 8, 2011

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What is it with our region lately? We’re being targeted with rain. Stupid hurricanes.

Yeah, we got more rain, more flooding. We only just swept Hurricane Irene out of our homes and basements and roads. Tropical Storm Lee decided to take the highway straight up from the south. Look at that line. Crazy! In case you didn’t know, I’m smack dab in the center of Upstate NY, right where that yellow-glob is.

That is a satellite photo taken at around 10pm last night.

I’m not sure how much rain we’ve had. It’s been raining straight– fishhooks and hammer handles– since early Wednesday morning. The weathermen said yesterday that we’d probably see upwards of 4 inches. But when I checked a rain barrel last night, when we were only halfway through the storm, it was 4 inches.

This is the new satellite photo, taken at about 8am today. I can’t believe this thing, it’s a monster with more energy than a 2-year old. It just keeps churning and churning.

Sorry if I am a bit incoherent. We were up a good portion of the night. One of our 3 sump pumps gave up the ghost, and the husband had to run to Home Depot (who stayed open all night on account of the emergencies) and re-pipe a new pump. Unfortunately, it’s a smaller horsepower pump, so the water in the basement isn’t going down as quickly as we’d like. At least the yard flooding has slowed.According to the satellite, though, we’ve got another day of this, probably.

My neighbors just 15 miles north of me have it bad. Neighborhoods have been evacuated– emergency teams have had to call in hovercrafts and boats. Schools are closed on their second day of school today. And the fire sirens just keep sounding. It’s unreal.

In the county next to me, reports are “flooding” in of schools filled with water. Cobleskill college had a foot of water in the dorms, with muddy waterfalls flowing down the stairs. Another neighbor had 4 feet of water in his basement. And of course, some folks’ homes have been inundated.

I know these things happen all over the world, and Louisiana is suffering from massive flooding, too. But here in Central NY, the biggest weather events we get is snow. We don’t get constant streams of hurricanes and tornadoes and earthquakes (all of which we have had in the past 3 weeks). Our infrastructure isn’t prepared for it. We’ve had five “100-year floods” in 5 years. That’s just….. nutty. Yeah, I’m frustrated. What’s worse is that states like Texas need all this rain much more than we do. I wish I could send it over, I really do. Oh well. It’s the weather. Thank God we’re still doing OK even though the losses are bad. And I’ve seen God make lemonade out of lemons with stuff like this. I just need to keep reminding myself of that while I watch the waters rise.

I will be getting a canoe, though. Seriously.

When I was a girl, we suffered a lot of rain one year. That year was actually a record-breaker for Central NY, our year of the most rainfall in 12 months. I canoed in my front yard during that time. Boy, it was fun!

Well, I think we have surpassed that old record of rainfall. And I realized that my kids don’t know how to operate a canoe. They need to learn. No time like the present. LOL.

I seem to be talking about the weather a lot on this blog lately. Sorry. I wish I could talk about my latest renovation project or something. But yikes, we can’t seem to get a hammer in edgewise with all this rain. ALL YEAR LONG.

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Hurricane Irene Eve

August 27, 2011

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Our sunset tonight. Nice pretty colors but she is TOTALLY unwelcome.

Hurricane Irene Eve

This week alone, Upstate New York has had a tornado, an earthquake and a hurricane. ONE WEEK. Insane!

The weather guys are forecasting upwards of 5 inches for my area. Please keep us in your prayers. Five inches means bad flash flooding. Irene needs to move out to sea.

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An Ounce of Prevention…

August 26, 2011

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… is worth a pound of cure, as the saying goes.

We spent part of our afternoon in hurricane preparedness today. See that green area in central New York State? That’s me.

We pulled in the patio furniture (oh my word, we have a TON of chairs, did you know that?!, the tractor, the tables, the stuff that’s been hanging on the line for a few days (oopsie, hee hee), the trash barrels… and stuffed it all into the garage. We can barely squeeze through the narrow walkway in there, but we did it!!! Well, actually, the kids did all the work. They did an amazing job. šŸ™‚

We have to get a third sump pump installed yet. We are going to get a battery backup kind in case the power goes out.

I’m not worried or anything. No need to stock up on water, canned food, dried beans, and cat food or anything! And after the last major flood we had, we pretty much cleaned out the entire basement. So the only thing that would get wrecked if we have several feet of water down there is the water heater. It would NOT be fun if it got ruined, but at least that’s all there is. Some weather guys are saying we may get 4 to 6 inches of rain in 24 hours…. yikes. It’s already so soggy here (been that way for 10 years now) that we’d have flooding should that much rain hit us. I’m hoping we get less than 2 inches.

How about you? Are you on the hurricane map? You going to have a “hurricane party” or get outta there?

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The Silent Summer: No Crickets, No Peepers!

July 5, 2011

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Something very strange has happened. I realized it the other night while I outside in the backyard during twilight. The entire yard and forest and small creek that runs next door is completely silent. Completely silent!

No crickets. No spring peepers. Nothing. I have never experienced anything like it since I’ve lived here. Besides the mosquitoes quietly whirring around us, the only forest activity was the lightning bugs, blinking their lights in utter silence.

This is my backyard. Behind that scraggly brush is a small rivulet that fills with peepers every spring. There’s no sign of my beloved musical friends there this year.

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At dusk, the area is usually ablaze with sounds. The crickets usually chirp so loudly that they challenge the sounds of the busy streets. And the peepers– those tiny little frogs that exhale high-pitched raspy whistles– are gone. Everything is SILENT.

I found a video recording of peepers in the northeast. This is what my neighborhood SHOULD be sounding like:

I’m devastated!! What happened?! I have lived here for over 14 years and nothing like this has ever happened. Was it the awful April flooding that swept my critters away? Is it some kind of pesticide or toxic chemical that has been sprayed in the forest and has descended into my neighborhood? Is there some evil raccoon gang or other monstrous creatures that have eaten all my precious nightly musicians in some kind of perverse thuggery??

This spring and summer has been weird, simply weird. I feel forlorn, bereft of a very necessary ecological foundation. It just ain’t summertime without the peepers. šŸ™

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Get Rid of It. Yeah.

May 26, 2011

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WHAT IS IT with all this crazy weather?? Will someone please tell me?! Flooding here, flooding in the Mississippi?? Vicious tornadoes and I saw that they even had snow in Colorado?? In late MAY, for pete’s sake.

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My area is still cleaning up from late April’s flash flooding. Everything is just so messy. Like everyone else, we’re chipping away at the messes, but we really don’t have a lot of time to dedicate to cleanup.

I recently heard about a very nice junk removal business– Getridofit.com – Affordable Junk Removal and Hauling. These guys look amazing! They solve the problem of junk removal, which, as you might suspect, can be very painful on the budget as well as on the emotions. Many people think their only recourse for removing junk is to hire a (very very) expensive professional hauler. We paid THROUGH THE NOSE last year for dumpster service. Ouch.

Well, the guys at GetRidofIt.com give you the ability to find more affordable junk removal teams in your area. GetRidofIt.com has a list of companies with excellent ratings based on price and customer service. It’s pretty easy to find junk removers in your area– just visit the GetRidofIt.com website and type in your zip code. And if you are an ambitious entrepreneur looking to start up a junk removal business (and it’s looking like a pretty lucrative career, these days!) you can sign up your company to get on the GetRidofIt.com’s list! Check out more information on the website. This is a good website to bookmark, too. Because even if you don’t have a natural disaster or renovation going on, you’re going to always need a helping hand to get rid of the old furniture, barbeque, busted bicycles, broken lawn furniture……

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A Little Discouraged About the Gardens

May 21, 2011

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For the first time in years, I’m seriously thinking about skipping all gardening this year, even the vegetable garden. It’s been my custom to add a little bit to the yard every year. When we bought the property, it was horribly overgrown. Neighbors used it as a semi-park and dumping ground. It took a heck of a lot of work to build this yard, to convince people that NO you cannot use my new lawn as your doggie doo despository, NO you cannot use my lawn as your next NASCAR racetrack, NO you cannot give your kids saws to chop down my new baby trees just for the fun of it. It’s been a ferociously uphill battle, but I had some major victories. My Secret Garden is my pride and joy.

Blooming Garden

Two years ago. Mmmmmmm. šŸ™‚

But a number of things have really discouraged me. The flooding, for one. Every few years, my property is flooded with several inches of flood waters. It wipes out EVERYTHING. I’m tired of it. I’m so tired of battling the town, begging them to solve their stormwater drainage problems and slow down the McMansion uber-development up the hill. I’m tired of cleaning the silt and the mud from the house and yard. I’m tired of all the weeds that take opportunity on the wings of the flood waters to sink their gritty roots into my lush flower beds.

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My gardens are under there... somewhere. See how close the water is to the house.

 

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The vegetable garden today. *sigh*

It’s been raining just about every day in Upstate New York, since January. When I step onto the lawn, my feet sink a little into the squishy mud. We can’t mow sections of the lawn because it’s filled with sticky mud. What do I do? Shovel out the lawn???

Then there’s the deer. We are inundated with deer. I live in town, for pete’s sake! But there are woods (albeit small lots) in the back. Dozens of deer come to my property for their munch fests. I think word has got out there’s a feast of free vegetation to be had here. They eat like there’s no tomorrow. They even eat the plants that deer aren’t SUPPOSED to eat. Oh sure, I could spend $6,000 and put up an 8-foot fence around the perimeter of the property…. all 2,500 feet of it…. but we put up a small fence in the front, and THAT was agonizing enough. No can do.

Then there’s the fact that I work a few jobs now. Working, coupled with doing all the mom and housewifey stuff like cooking and cleaning, coupled with all the renovations this old house desperately needs has me depressed and frustrated most of the time, when I stop to think about it (something I try to avoid!).

I can’t keep up with it all. I’m too old. I’m not even sure if I can keep up the house anymore. While we have *most* of the downstairs gutted and renovated (except the windows and bathroom and some trim work), the upstairs awaits me. And the house beams are sagging and need to be supported (a major undertaking). And the basement foundation needs to be remortared outside (requiring excavation). And the roof needs replacing. And of course, we need new siding and we have got to get gutters to direct all this water away from the house. I really wonder if it’s all worth it. Why fix up a house and yard when it floods so bad that it wrecks everything you’ve done? I just want to patch up the holes, sell the place and get something situated on a hill. It’s SO discouraging.

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We can't mow yet because there's a ton of mud sitting on the lawn still.

I guess this is normal for people experiencing flooding and other problems. I don’t see any way out and it’s terribly depressing to think about it. I think I’ll just get my zucchini at the store this year….

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My Little Cupcake

May 3, 2011

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She’s such a sweet baby. šŸ™‚

Livvy Cupcake

I didn’t want to have those flood photos up as the first post, anymore. :-p I’m sick of the mud and rain and cold. I have this terrible longing to hop in the car and drive far, far away… to some warm, sunny beach where I will sit on the sands and watch the ocean waves crash on the rocks. ***sighhh***

We’ve got good news: our insurance will cover the basement cleanup and damages. We have water back-up coverage, THANK GOD. Unfortunately, some of our neighbors do not, nor do they have flood insurance. šŸ™ Please keep them in your prayers. It’s bad enough slogging through mud and more water… it’s horrible to have to pay out of pocket for the damages.

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