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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Drying out the village

Last weekend I made my third and fourth drives through the village since it drowned. The pizzeria's neon OPEN sign is lit, the drugstore has a brave white paper with a handwritten "OPEN" on it in the window, but neither had any noticeable traffic; almost nobody lives in the village anymore. The parking spaces on Main Street were empty except for torn-out sheetrock and fiberglass. People wearing gloves and masks over their noses and mouths carried debris out of wide-open buildings. An old blue barn that had floated off its foundation and nearly into the road had one of its walls removed on my morning trip by, two by the time I went by in the afternoon. The building that housed my hairdresser's shop has its walls half-removed to take advantage of whatever drying the sun and air could accomplish. 


The first time I went through the village, when it still looked like a war zone, it smelled like Death. The second time it smelled like heating oil from the storage tanks that had been knocked loose and had leaked their contents. The stench has dissipated. Now it smells less like Death and more like the old mildewy dust of country cellars. 


Along the road between village and home, and between the other side of village and dog groomer's shop, the cornstalks that still stand rise from a foot of standing water; elsewhere in the same fields they are wind-flattened. All of it is useless.


There are houses with "For Sale By Owner" and Realtor signs in the front lawns. The mortgages on the ruined structures and the cost of rebuilding . . . some people are simply walking away, to live in apartments with newly-bought or donated furniture. Those who are brave and strong enough to hire contractors to tear down and start over run the risk of some mean SOB reporting them to the state Department of Labor for not having an asbestos survey done before they demolish . . . as if any asbestos that might have been attached to those structures wouldn't have been miles downstream by now.


A couple of weeks after the floods I had heard rumors of forgetting about maintaining the dam, allowing the valley to flood, some level of government taking the land by eminent domain. I haven't heard any of that recently, and I am relieved. I prefer that my house be "hilltop" rather than "waterfront."

7 comments:

Wanda..... said...

Such things one never thinks of happening. We live on a hill and the village below used to flood years ago, before a dam was built. Would hate to have the return of flooding.

threecollie said...

I am still in awe of the way people have pulled together on this, but there is always someone who pulls in the other direction. They are mouthing the same stuff out west...let the farmland go to ducks and carp and have the government take it over.

Rubye Jack said...

This is so sad--the loss of one's home has got to be so devastating. It seems so many decisions are made without considering the people who are effected. Hopefully they'll continue to maintain the dam.

Carolynn said...

Nature is surely awesome. So sorry to hear of the devastation. Glad you built on higher ground!

Grandmother said...

It's heartbreaking to lose a home or a business that's a livelihood and for many to lose theirs means the loss of the village. Economic times such as these gives less cushion to rebuild. You make the headlines personal and sad.

Retired English Teacher said...

This truly is a heartbreaking post. I don't know how one would recover and rebuild after this devastation. Even to relocate must be so scary and overwhelming. My heart goes out to those who have lost homes and livelihoods.

Linda Myers said...

It is sad to read about the losses, but I expect the community's spirit is strong, and that is a good thing.