Editor’s note: Angie Cook lives in Keene Valley, NY, and her house was damaged by Hurricane Irene in August, 2011. This is the first of a three-part series in which Angie will share her story of the storm and its aftermath.
Tell us what was going on before the storm hit.
Hurricane Irene happened at the end of last summer on August 28th. The previous spring we had serious flooding with the first 500-year flood and then the second 500-year flood hit in the fall.
The spring flood seemed like the perfect storm dumping tons of snow in the mountains, a huge rainstorm, ground saturation, and snow melt all happening at once.
Also, some work being done on a nearby bridge was damming trees and logs in the river. I watched as my neighbors’ homes were surrounded by the rising water and flooded and the water came pretty darn close to our house, before retreating.
We thought, “After that, what could ever happen to us?”
Did you prepare for the storm at all?
We heard the warnings for Hurricane Irene and thought, “If we didn’t flood the spring before, we aren’t going to now.” The levels of rain predicted were pretty scary, but plenty of times they issue warnings and it usually never happens.
My husband, two kids, two dogs and I were inside the house – we couldn’t really do anything outside because of the rain. My sister was visiting and we were making salsa. It was a great day to make salsa, we were stuck indoors with 15 pounds of tomatoes, and we were excited since it was our first time making it.
In the morning I drove to check the [Ausable] River and it seemed fine, and then checked it again mid-morning, and thought it seemed OK. I went out one more time a few hours later and saw that the water was beginning to rise all around us, puddles started to form in lower areas, and could see more water turning up around us.
What was it like when the water reached your house?
All of a sudden water was all around us and we were surrounded. I peeked out to get a look and I started to freak out. My husband thought I might be overreacting and wanted me to calm down. I looked out again to see my neighbor running through shin deep water with a bunch of bags, and I yelled, “Are you evacuating?” She looked at me and stood there for a second and you could see the stress in her body and then she screamed, “YES!”
At that point, it was just panic. You see the water surrounding your cars and you just don’t know what to do. I started yelling for the kids to pick up the Monopoly game and I picked up one of my antique chairs and was running up the stairs, when my husband tells me, “Put that down, we’re getting in the car.” We literally threw all my husband’s music equipment upstairs on the bed, along with all my photography equipment; we unplugged the computer and ran out to the van with the dogs and the kids.
We backed out into the water driving down a road that’s now a river, wondering, “Where are we going to go?” We decided to go to our friends’ house since they live really high up and we walked in the door in tears, and we say, “Our house just got flooded, the river just flooded the house.”
You always want to try to hold it together for your kids, but I just couldn’t. I just knew it was going to be bad. It came up so fast, and our house was at ground zero, in Keene Valley. And I just knew.
Angie Cook is Philanthropy Coordinator and Trip Coordinator at The Nature Conservancy’s Adirondacks Chapter Office in New York. Angie Cook lives in Keene Valley, NY, and her house was damaged by Hurricane Irene in August, 2011. This is the first of a three-part series in which Angie will share her story of the storm and its aftermath.
Photo courtesy of Flickr user checkbrazil (Washbowl) via creative commons license.
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