Archive for August 2011

Wasting Away Margaretville

August 31, 2011


The above is a piece of road outside of Margaretville, New York, post-Irene.

I have not yet been to Margaretville since Irene, largely because of sections of road like the one above. However, I heard two very disturbing bits of news today: first, that much of Margaretville will be demolished given the hazardous conditions created by buildings damaged by Irene. Two, that some Republican congressmen such as Eric Cantor have discussed mounting an effort to withhold funds for FEMA assistance to disaster ravaged areas in the absence of further budget cuts.

The village of Margaretville had the distinction, prior to this demolition, of being a true town. The historically difficult economic conditions of Upstate New York have, perhaps, discouraged the abundance of Walmart’s. As a result, Margaretville was an actual center, with a grocery store, a couple of pharmacies, ice cream parlors, a cheese store, a sports shop, a library, a jewelers, antique store (in an old movie theater), a relatively nice restaurant, greasy spoon, bar, liquor store, thrift shop, children’s/art and clothing store, and (occasional) hair cutters. There was even the “Department Store”–a place where you could (at different times in its history) buy work pants, boots, and rare coins. Canning jars!

Everything was in walking distance, connected by sidewalks. There were a couple of parking lots, one near a stream that sported ducks! (One of them bit my daughter’s finger.) There was an old and somewhat grandiose school building built, I think, from WPA funds.

Huge ice cream cones. (Perry’s.)

Winters are long up here and there is no legalized gambling. This may be another way of saying that it was not a tremendously prosperous town, although lately, owing in part to a popular farmers’ market, local farm businesses and dairies seemed to be coming back.

Not only is Main Street being demolished, but the local trailer park (in Arkville, the adjacent town) has washed away. People who lived there have lost all they owned.

The local road crew has been working very hard, filling in crevices, removing rubble, redirecting new creeks and stream bits, arranging for milk and food to reach families still cut-off. One worker mentioned, when we spoke to him today, that he hadn’t been able to sleep even when he’d finally gotten home each night. If we wanted to donate clothes or food to those in Margaretville, he said, we could take them down to the local fire station. (This assumes we had a large vehicle that could get through the still-ravaged roads. We don’t, but still it’s a big improvement on being stranded.) I didn’t get a chance to ask him what he thought about protecting tax breaks for private jet owners.

Double Yellow Lines Mean “No Passing” – Strips of Road-stripe Catskills Post-Irene

August 30, 2011









End of the Road? Catskills/Post-Irene – Margaretville/Fleischmans

August 30, 2011

The above video (a bit less wobbly than some of my earlier ones) is of a Catskill Road in a valley outside of  Margaretville and Fleischmans, New York.  I haven’t been to Margaretville or Fleischmans since Irene==that would involve crossing what is left of the above road.  From the video reports, the towns appear to have been hit very hard, large sections destroyed. Both towns were home to many who were already struggling economically; it is difficult to imagine how they are coping with the losses caused by Irene.

What is also very sad is that each of Margaretville and Fleischmans are actual towns, with “Main Streets” and cafes, bakeries,restaurants,, actual smallish stores for food, clothing, guns, planting supplies, pots and pans, art materials, and (okay) antiques. (The nearest Walmart is probably an hour away.)

But they have character.  And sidewalks.

Fleischmans has both a fairly large Hasidic population and also, it seems Mexican immigrants.  When you stop there on the early morning bus, you see groups of young men in long black robes and hats with various colors of bath towels flung over their shoulders, while even the smallest dim shop sells those dark round slabs used for Mexican hot chocolate.

Margaretville has a library!  And ducks!  And some small platforms for skateboarders next to the ducks!  And a playground and the Cheese Barrel and the Bun and Cone.  Margaretville recovered from a major flood in ’96, but governments were different then. Hope that the town gets help now.

Which Rocks Don’t Belong? (Catskill Driveway – Post-Irene)

August 29, 2011

Above is a video of those parts of a Catskill driveway not currently under water.

See prior post for Catskill roads.

Strands of Post-Irene Road in Catskills

August 29, 2011

Our evacuation from Zone A of New York City to the Catskill Mountains continues today!

As followers of this blog know, we felt a bit bad, in leaving NYC last weekend, that we were missing out of all of the excitement of Irene.  Sure, staying for the drama of the big storm might be kind of interesting, but it wasn’t worth the risk.  (Besides, we were forced evacuees.)

So, we’d come up to the mountains we thought, where we’d be high above the coastal storm system.

Above is a video of our road, post-Irene.

Below is a video of another part of our road.

And another.

It is quite beautiful here, which is lucky, since we will be spending quite a bit more time than expected.

Wishing to Say “Goodnight Irene”, Instead Goodbye-Hello – The Evacuee’s Plaint

August 28, 2011

Above is the place where a driveway used to be.  This driveway belonged to an upstate house to which we fled when evacuated from Zone A of NYC before Hurricane Irene.

Which brings me to:

The Evacuee’s Plaint

From the frying pan into the fire,
the saltine into the soup,
the thick to the thin, the baby in the bathwater to the baby thrown-out
with the bath water–make that roiling water–
from puddled embankment to muddy rapids,
dim to dark,
maybe to absolutely,
the flooding to the washed-out.

It’s still raining here
where we’ve come
to be high
and dry.  All feet
are cold
and damp,
but with
five toes wriggling.
Make that ten.

Irene – Out-of-the-loop Style Rain

August 27, 2011


I am a couple of hundred miles (at least) from the epicenter of Hurricane irene, and, thanks to evacuation, unlikely to be ever closer than a hundred miles from that center.

All day the sky has felt like a petulant child in the back seat of a car. At the risk of disclosing my age, I am thinking of a 1950’s or 60’s car i.e. not air-conditioned–so the sky (in my mind) was a sticky child, forehead moist with sweat, slightly motion sick, asking endlessly when the traffic would move and if we were there yet, a child whose face darkened and contorted steadily with a kind of holding-his/her breath irritation.

It has started (at last) to rain here.

The sky is no longer dark except with night–the clouds now lie like stoles along the shoulders of the landscape; the air, though damp, breathes easily.

The rain is gentle for now, slowly getting stronger, but not lashing, not pelting, quite content, it seems, to be out of the loop.

Hope you are out of it too.

Evacuated. Tired. Waiting.

August 27, 2011


Feeling a little guilty to have fled my apartment in downtown NYC in advance of Hurricane Irene. This guilt is somewhat assuaged by the fact that the “excitement” would have consisted mainly of sitting in the dark listening to the wind howl (If you live in Battery Park City, you will know that the wind howls there even in ordinary storms–the place is a wind tunnel.)

My guilt is also assuaged by the mandatory evacuation, which, despite the inconvenience,certainly eased the decision-making. When presented with the option not of sitting out the storm in your apartment, but HIDING out there, the dithering ceases abruptly.

The air felt hot, ominous, as we left the City late last night on a full commuter train, and even upstate (where we’ve sought refuge) has a brooding quality, clouds heavy, landscape lit from beneath. Everything at ground level seems to be waiting, a little petulantly, a little fearfully, overly hot; there is a slightly feverish quality even in the grass, and my personal energy has dropped lower than the barometer.

Maybe a good time for a lie-down, like the ground itself. Good luck all!


August 26, 2011

Not to seem trivial (hah!), but just as I get back to the City, just as I get theater tickets, just as I determine that I’ll stick out the hurricane and run and do a bunch of shopping, I find myself in a mandatory evacuation zone.

A time to feel lucky to have somewhere to go.

Have a safe weekend all.

More Yankee Grit And More Tea

August 25, 2011

My favorite baseball team, the New York Yankees, once again gave a lesson in perseverance today, coming from a score of 1-7 (behind) in the 4th inning against Oakland to a final victory of 22-9, with a record breaking 3 grand slams.  This, on a day in which the game was delayed for approximately 90 minutes because of rain.

I ponder this example of “sticktuitiveness” over my sixth or seventh cup of strong tea, hoping to get something done this damp evening, or to, at least, go to the gym.   Caffeine is useful, but doesn’t quite seem to substitute for a good eye, apt swing, strong follow-through, stamina….