Hurricane Irene

Washington Examiner: FEMA sold trailers as Sandy churned toward the coast

Above: January 2012 photo of contractors at a staging area in Cobleskill preparing to haul a three-bedroom temporary housing unit to a site in Prattsville, for survivors of the Irene floods. Photo by Hans Pennink; from FEMA website.

The Washington Examiner, a right-leaning newspaper that covers national politics in Washington, D.C., reports that the Federal Emergency Management Agency sold hundreds of trailers at cut-rate prices in the weeks and months before Sandy wreaked devastation on the Eastern seaboard:

Now, with thousands of families left homeless in New York and New Jersey by the hurricane, those same federal officials are poised to spend more taxpayer dollars to buy brand-new trailers.  Read more

Swept away by Irene: Prattsville's records

Prattsville lost a lot more than bricks and mortar in the Irene floods.

The Daily Mail reports that most of the town's financial records for the 2011 fiscal year were destroyed in last year's epic flooding, making a proper audit of the town's books impossible. A recent federal audit of town finances, required because of the amount of money Prattsville has received from FEMA, didn't have much to go on:

Providing background, the report states, “substantially all of the town's books of original entry; the general and subsidiary ledgers; related accounting manuals records such as work sheet and spreadsheets supporting cost allocations; computations and reconciliations; as well as substantially all corroborating evidence in support of the financial statements were destroyed by Hurricane Irene and the subsequent flooding which also destroyed the town's headquarters.

“The scope of our work was not sufficient to enable us to express, and we do not express, an opinion on the financial statements,” the report states.  Read more

"God, can you help me with the hurricane blues": Margaretville remembers Irene

On Thursday, August 30, the village of Margaretville came together to reflect on the Irene floods. Local videographer Jess Vecchione produced the video above, using footage taken at the ceremony. In it, she juxtaposes shots of the incredible devastation wreaked on the village of Margaretville a year ago with the voices of prominent local citizens talking about where Margaretville is today.

Middletown supervisor Marge Miller talks about why the ceremony of remembrance was held:

"We really needed something to say, 'We've made it, we're here, we still have struggles and concerns, but we're getting there.'"

Margaretville business owner Dorothy Maffei, who put in countless hours of work as a volunteer coordinator over the last year, says that the community rallied after Irene, and that the response should be a lesson in future disasters:

"We as a community should celebrate how well we did, and now figure out how to make it a little bit of a plan, so that we know we can do it again."  Read more

Village of Middleburgh takes city and state agencies to task for flood response

Matthew Avitabile, the mayor of the tiny Schoharie County village of Middleburgh, wants answers about last year's flood response from the powerful city and state agencies that operate two vast dams above the village.

Today, the village sent out a press release announcing that they had written to the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, which runs the Gilboa Dam, and the New York Power Authority, which runs the Blenheim-Gilboa Dam, below New York City's dam.

The press release:  Read more

Coming up: Irene anniversary events

It's a year to the day since flooding from Tropical Storm Irene pummelled upstate New York. While a lot of commemorative events have already happened over the past week, the next few weeks will see more (including a picnic in Maplecrest that is underway even as we blog).

One to mark on your calendars: On September 22, Schoharie is hosting the second annual Schoharie Valley Rock 'N Roll Flood Relief Concert, featuring a lineup of bands that includes Poor Dead Molly, FlashBack,Max Violet, Chicken Hearders, Shakey Ground, Crash Coarse, Von Rudder, and a special afternoon appearance by up and coming teen country sensation Chelsea Cavanaugh.

To find more, check out our calendar of upcoming Irene anniversary events.

Prattsville shines, mud and all

See video

Above: A YouTube video from Prattsville's MudFest, held Saturday and Sunday, August 25 and 26. Video by Lance Wheeler.

Over the weekend, several Catskills towns that got whomped by the Irene and Lee floods held events timed to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the deluge.

But it was Prattsville that stole the spotlight -- by opting to ditch the somber reminiscences in favor of an all-out, gloppy, mudluscious party. MudFest, a two-day community-wide tribute to the grubby but undaunted spirit of recovery, drew plenty of reporters as well as festivalgoers.

Prattsville got a bit of welcome news just before MudFest kicked off, too; last Thursday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced an additional $500,000 in rebuilding funds for the town. The Wall Street Journal reports that although a lot still remains to be done, the town has come a long way:  Read more

Prattsville's MudFest

August 25, 2012 (All day)

Residents of Prattsville invite one and all to attend their 1st Annual MudFest on Saturday and Sunday, August 25th & 26th, 2012 to help them celebrate their continued recovery from the floods of Hurricane Irene one year ago. Yes, celebrate. The people of Prattsville and other area towns are a resilient bunch, able to pull together and bounce back in the face of advertsity.

On Aug. 28, 2011, life dealt the people of Prattsville, NY mud—and plenty of it—they vowed then and there to create the First Annual MudFest the following year. MudFest is a celebration of all-things mud. Visitors to MudFest will find themselves surrounded by mud drinks, mud foods (the kind you can actually eat), mud games, mud sculptures, and you guessed it, mud!
  Read more

MudFest: Prattsville prepares to get dirty all over again

Prattsville residents are getting ready to get down and dirty this weekend.

On August 28, 2011, Prattsville's Main Street was almost completely destroyed by the flooding from Tropical Storm Irene. A year later, don't expect the anniversary to be a somber affair. Prattsville will be defiantly thumbing its nose at Irene this weekend with a two-day MudFest.

“This year has been full of ups and downs for us,” Greg Town, a member of the Prattsville MudFest Committee said. “We’ve cried and mourned enough that we believe the community deserves to smile and have some fun.”

The festival -- which will span Saturday and Sunday, and feature live music, rides, vendors, arts and crafts and games -- was the brainchild of area residents after witnessing the devastation of Hurricane Irene, Town said.

In the days after the storm, the first task facing Prattsville's home and business owners was tackling the layer of thick mud that the floods had left behind. During the process, Town said, the community was already thinking of ways to move forward.  Read more

A long, hard look back at Prattsville's darkest hour

Above: The house of Dave Rikard, a week after the Irene floods devastated Prattsville's Main Street. Rikard appears in a New York Magazine feature story this month about Prattsville. Photo by Jay Harsevoort; shared in the Watershed Post's Flickr group pool.

For anyone who lived through the Irene and Lee floods last year, a feature story in the current issue of New York Magazine will be a very tough read. "Please God Stop The Rain," a 5,000-word story by feature writer Josh Dean, is an astonishing look back at the day Prattsville washed away.

In it, Dean recounts the experiences of several Main Street residents -- all of whom have appeared in news accounts of the flood before, but whose terrifying ordeal on August 28 has not yet been told in such vivid and heart-stopping detail.  Read more

Faces of the Flood: "The tsunami after the hurricane"

Above: Dorothy Maffei in an Arkville warehouse where she and teams of volunteers stored tons of clothing donated after Tropical Storm Irene. Photo by Christopher Auger-Dominguez.

This week in our Faces of the Flood series: How donations after a disaster caused more problems than they solved for Dorothy Maffei, a shopkeeper who became Margaretville's town's go-to recovery organizer.

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