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Category Archives: flood

Is Help on the Way?

Flood recovery in the Mohawk Valley continues. This being a topic of surpassing local concern, I dare to write about it, even though I cannot call it “totally fun,” as my subhead promises.

FEMA has deemed individuals in Central New York unworthy of federal aid. They are helping municipalities, which is something (do I mean “municipalities”? “Towns, counties, villages and cities” seemed cumbersome) (I suppose parenthetical comments also become cumbersome, but I gotta be me). Gov. Cuomo has declared that the state will step in and help. Yesterday’s adventure involved the first step in Steven’s and my search for this help.

Actually, one could say we had already taken a first step, because we have gotten in touch with our insurance company to get a statement from them saying we’re not covered. I felt a little silly bothering them. It seems to me one could look at our policy and see there’s no flood coverage. I have also been told, by people with flood insurance, that it does not cover basements, where our damages took place. Still, “everybody” said you needed the official statement. So I bothered them.

I also called FEMA, because somebody on the local news seemed to think it was a good idea. I talked to a nice young lady who told me there really wasn’t anything she could do for me, because there had not been a declaration or delegation or something saying individuals would be helped.

So much for 800 numbers. The state sent people out to help flood victims apply for state aid. Last night (Tuesday), Steven and I went to apply.

The people were going to be at Herkimer County Community College (HCCC) Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. We went Tuesday after work. I had been going to just change my shoes and go in all my blue collar glory, but I felt grubby so decided to shower first.

Then I had to figure out what to wear, never an easy task. My green capris pants were clean and comfortable; I only needed a shirt big enough to cover my fat ass. Usually a Hawaiian shirt fit the bill, but I felt a little silly going out with my begging bowl dressed for a party. Steven was changing into more respectable-looking shorts himself. I finally settled on my t-shirt from Living History Weekend at the Fort Herkimer Church.

Some readers may think it silly that I take up a whole paragraph on wardrobe, but I like to think I was sneaking in a little fun after all.

Handy signs directed us where to go on the HCCC campus. We signed in and were given a form to fill out. Soon we were called in to talk to somebody. A nice young man went over the form with us, answered our questions and explained what would happen next. Then we had an exit interview where they asked us how it went and did we have any suggestions for improvement.

The entire process was actually fairly quick and painless. I must confess as I was debating what shirt to wear, I was fairly dreading the ordeal ahead. I thought the lines would be long, the form would be longer and I just didn’t want to mess with it. It was really not at all bad.

I asked the lady at the exit interview if they were volunteers or paid. She said she worked for the state but had volunteered to do this instead of her regular work. As it extended beyond the normal workday, she was volunteering the extra time. I thought that was pretty cool.

So did I get any help, you may ask. Well, I don’t know yet. This was only step one. But I’ll keep you posted.

Fanfare for Fire Departments!

I thought I would take today’s post to give a brief shout-out to fire departments everywhere.

Of course, I’ve always been a great admirer of firefighters. They have bravery, dedication and physical abilities that are far beyond anything I can muster.

I first started getting a tear in my eye over firefighters in the aftermath of 9-11. I heard about how firefighters far and wide just got in their cars and went to help. Just like that. To this day I get a lump in my throat thinking about it.

I came to greatly admire our Mohawk Valley fire departments a few years ago, when a fire raged on Main Street and onto Albany Street in Herkimer, NY. Several departments from surrounding communities came together and fought the blaze, saving several local businesses.

And now comes the Flood of 2013. Departments from around the state have come to help. My own basement was pumped out twice by two different departments last Saturday.

The second time my husband, Steven, and I were not even home when they started. We had run out to pick up some food, and when we returned a fire truck was in our driveway. Our neighbor had seen through our basement window that we were filling up again and flagged down the truck.

A fireman had crawled through our basement window (the first guys had taken it out, because it doesn’t open properly), turned off our little sump pump and set up their equipment. Go on,picture it: one of those little basement windows into a basement that was crappy before it flooded, and he crawls right in and gets to work.

In conclusion, I repeat: I LOVE FIRE DEPARTMENTS. From now on, whenever I see a fire department fundraiser, I am there. I’ll probably write a blog post about it.

All in the Same Ark

One comfort to me is that we — that is, we in the Mohawk Valley — are all going through this. Everybody is pumping out their basements. Nobody in my neighborhood has flood insurance, I don’t think. Many people who already had sump pumps “just happened to have them and have never needed them.

Astute readers may have guessed by now that this blog is segueing over into All Flood All the Time. It is the topic of the moment in the Mohawk Valley, and quite frankly, it makes me feel better to think with each new woe, “At least I can get a blog post out of this!”

It seems to me that others are showing considerably more competence at this pumping out and cleaning up stuff than me, but I’m not sure if that is really true. When I’ve spoken to my neighbors and said, “I’m just so clueless about all this,” the usual response is, “Us, too!”

I was later than others in starting the pumping thing. Others were pumping by Friday afternoon and into Friday night. My husband Steven and I got started on Saturday. A call to a company specializing in this sort of thing got us an appointment on Wednesday. Wednesday! We headed to Aubuchon in Herkimer, NY, to see what we could do right away.

We usually go to Aubuchon for this sort of thing, because they are always so informative and helpful. They did not disappoint. We purchased a sump pump, two sixty-foot garden hoses (a better buy than one hundred-footer, because of a sale) and a heavy duty extension cord. We do own a heavy duty extension cord, but neither of us could remember if it was in the dining room under the buffet or in the basement under water) (it turned out to be the dining room, but I saved the receipt).

We could not figure out how to get a basement window out so we ran the hose up the stairs and out the door. As we were messing with it, a fireman came over and said they were pumping out the neighbor’s basement next door. We were next! Woohoo!

While they were getting set up, Steven left for work. While they were pumping, the plumber showed up.

I forgot to mention that to add to our woes, the toilet was not flushing. I feared it was due to backed up sewage, but after our guy asked Steven a few questions he said he’d be over later to check it out.

One snaking later, our toilet could flush. Yay! If there was one thing that could make me feel better about everything, that was it.

I almost feel I should end today’s narrative here, because it is such a high note. It was in fact as high as my spirits rose before being — I have to say it — damped down considerable, later in the day.

Looking back, yesterday was rather a long day. I spent it alternately buoyed up by hope (oh no, more water metaphors!) and plunged into despair. We’ll end today on hope: toilet flushing, basement being pumped out. What will happen in the afternoon? Stay tuned!

The Flooded Basement Blues

Well, I WAS writing a post all about a cheesy movie I saw, but I’ve been a little distracted.

It has been raining in a ridiculous fashion in the Mohawk Valley. Today, we flooded.

It was one thing when my street looked like a river. A little scary, but I could just stay in the house. It was a little more worrisome when the basement flooded. Well, I’ve been meaning to throw away a lot of that junk anyways. Now I’ll jolly well have to.

But it was a completely different animal when I started to hear a buzzing noise down in the basement.

“What’s that noise?” In a loud voice. “What do I do?” Even more agitated.

I did not, nor even consider for a moment, sloshing through the water for a closer listen. For one thing, the water is over knee deep. I can swim, but still. I have since been told that I was absolutely correct for such restraint.

As usual for a woman with my age, experience and sophistication, I called Mom and Dad. I suppose I am both a Mama’s and a Daddy’s Girl, but it cannot be denied that my parents know many things. I don’t think their basement ever flooded, but they probably know somebody who’s had it happen to them. My sister, for example (oh, wait a minute, I know her, too).

Mom said call Niagara Mohawk, they would send somebody.

“Steven! Get me the number to Niagara Mohawk!”

Of course we meant National Grid. For you younger readers (if any), National Grid used to be called Niagara Mohawk, in my opinion a far superior name. I mean, you can say NiMo, but are you likely to say NaGri? I, for one, am not.

So I called. They are sending someone. I later found out that we are also number 251 on the list for the Herkimer Fire Department (Steven called when I wasn’t looking).

So now I am waiting on my front porch for the NationalNiMo person. To relieve my feelings a little, I write a blog post about it. I don’t mean to treat my readers as unpaid therapists, but I must confess, I do feel a little better.

So that is my Friday Lame Post for the week. I hope you have enjoyed.