The first thing I remember is the phone call from my mother telling me that she was in mud up to her ankles … in my parents’ house.
You wouldn’t think of a tropical storm as something that would affect hill towns of upstate New York, more than two hours from the coast, but it did, causing flooding and damage for miles.
A week or so after the storm — my Facebook page tells me it was seven years ago today — I went to my parents’ house.
I lived in Weymouth, Massachusetts, south of Boston, at the time, and I not only wanted to help in some tiny way, I wanted to see.
My parents live in the Town of Wright, across the street from the Fox Creek, but surprisingly, the flooding didn’t come from the front of the house, as the creek is lower than the street and there’s a small field in the way.
Instead, trees that were knocked over down the street dammed up the creek, which flooded, and the floodwaters went behind and in houses down the road.
I was only there for a day, and my contribution was infinitesimal; I helped clear debris out of the house as my father was working on the living room and kitchen.
Yet there are numerous things I remember from my brief time there.
I remember seeing a hand-painted sign as I pulled into town saying looters would be shot.
I remember that when I wanted to go to Schoharie, the neighboring town where I went to school that got the brunt of the flooding, my father insisted I ride with him.
Even though it’s my hometown, and I have friends there (and I’m a Yankees fan after living in Massachusetts for years, for heaven’s sake!), my license plates say Massachusetts, and he didn’t want anyone to think I was an out-of-town gawker. So we rode in his truck.
I remember seeing military vehicles on Main Street in Schoharie … walking distance down the hill from my high school, where I bowled, where I got my first job, where I had hundreds of breakfasts, lunches and dinners. It was so bad, there were military vehicles on Main Street.
And I remember the feeling of helplessness … not theirs (although it would have been justified), but mine.
And not just the helplessness of living three hours away and not being able to do much — although that existed — but the helplessness I would have felt if it had been where I lived, not the place where I once lived.
There was debris everywhere I looked, and I could imagine myself freezing at the sight, not sure of what to do or where to start.
Yet my parents rebuilt the kitchen, the living room and everything else that was damaged, and even though I’ve been told business hasn’t recovered in Schoharie, especially compared to the neighboring town of Middleburgh, people cleared debris and have been rebuilding, and they still are.
Maybe I would have pulled myself together, but I can’t say that for certain. But that’s what a lot of people did.