Editor’s note: Angie Cook lives in Keene Valley, NY, and her house was damaged by Hurricane Irene in August, 2011. This is the second in a three-part series in which Angie will share her story of the storm and its aftermath.
In case you missed it, read part 1 here.
Tell us about the experience of rebuilding your house and your life. Where do you start?
Our good friend, Brian, happens to own a construction company. My husband Russ and Brian came up with the plan that first night: “We’re gonna walk in, we’re gonna see what it’s like, and we’ll probably rip the whole floor system up, and we’ll rip up about a foot high on the walls, to see if we find dry insulation. The next morning, we drove down and we could not believe it. It was like a bomb went off in our beautiful little mountain town. There was just debris everywhere – muck, sand, and trees down, buildings gone, and riverbeds just exploded their normal banks. There were helicopters flying around.
We walked in to our house and at first it wasn’t too bad. We looked inside, and all of our furniture was intact, all of our stuff was still inside, so it wasn’t like the whole lower floor of our house was destroyed. So we think, “This is okay, we can deal with this”. Then we notice big bubbles in the floor, and up to that point I’m thinking that we’re not even going to rip up the carpet.
Then the rug came up and we realized the subflooring was bubbled. Our house was built in the 1920s, so it was a really old house as it was, and it was built on a rock foundation. You take an old house and you hit it with a flood, and it’s not good. If it were a newer house, it probably would have taken the hit fine. As the days went by, Brian ripped up floors and he’d find dead standing water with soaked insulation.
My boss, Mike Carr [executive director of The Nature Conservancy's Adirondacks Chapter Office], who has been a huge player in the disaster my family has gone through, was there with the fire department every day. He said, “Angie, your foundation is trashed. You need to raise your house and put a new foundation in.” We never even thought of that. So we raised the funds, between family, FEMA, friends in the area, and grants. With a community of hundreds of people, we were able to raise the house, put in a new foundation, put the house back down, and basically redo the entire first floor. It was humbling, and mind-blowing, and every emotion you can think of, we’ve gone through it. The kids have had a really hard time with this, obviously. We moved four times, between friends’ homes and lent homes. Here we are, back in our home now. It looks like a war zone on the outside.
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 second in a three-part series in which Angie will share her story of the storm and its aftermath.
Photos courtesy of Angie Cook.
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