Remembering the Flood of 2011

Connie McKinney By Connie McKinney, 8th Sep 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/3ligasbu/
Posted in Wikinut>News>Environment

Helicopters swooped down to rescue people clinging to their roofs. Cars were submerged. Thousands of people were evacuated. This weekend marks the second anniversary of the Flood of 2011. Here's part one in a three-part series.

A Devastating Flood


Streets became rushing, muddy rivers. Firefighters, police officers and volunteers paddled canoes down the streets or steered motorboats as they rescued people trapped in their homes. National guard helicopters plucked some people from the roofs of their homes.
This was the scene in my home city of Binghamton, New York two years ago during the Flood of 2011. Binghamton is located near the Pennsylvania border and at the confluence of two rivers - the Chenango and Susquehanna Rivers.
As Tropical Storm Lee roared up the East Coast, he saved the worst for last. A record 7 inches of rain deluged Binghamton in one day. There was no place for all that water to go so the rivers rose more than 25 feet - 11 feet above flood stage. This is a look back at the devastating flood and how it affected my home city.
I was lucky. I live near the top of a steep hill and did not get one drop of water in my basement. Other people weren't so lucky. The flood damaged thousands of buildings in Binghamton and the surrounding area and caused millions of dollars in damages to homes and businesses. Some 20,000 people had to be evacuated. Thousands of people camped out on the floor of a university building which normally houses basketball games.
The parking lot of a large shopping center turned into a lake - submerging several cars. Only the antennas of the cars were visible above the muddy water. Less than a mile from where I live, a yellow Volkswagen sat submerged in water.
A wall of rushing muddy water swallowed up a tiny, one-story ranch house in a town a few miles outside of Binghamton. When town inspectors looked at it, they wrapped yellow tape around it and stuck a condemned sign on the door. Not one single item in the house could be salvaged.
Hundreds of roads were closed. A state of emergency was declared. Nobody went to work or school for a few days. Binghamton was under a boil water order for several days because the flood swamped the city's filtration plant.
Let's take a closer look at the damage:

A Far Reaching Flood


Binghamton wasn't the only place to suffer from the flooding. Almost every town and village in the area flooded - except for a few towns located high in the hills above the rivers.
One of the hardest hit areas was the village of Owego, located about a 20 minute drive from Binghamton in the neighboring county of Tioga. Owego is a charming, historical village with beautiful Victorian houses and unique gift shops and restaurants located on the banks of the Susquehanna River. The river roared through those beautiful houses, leaving a trail of mud and debris in its wake.
Let's see how the flood affected Owego:

Flooding the First Day of School


The flood occurred on the first day of school. Rain pounded the area all day. Classes were cut short. Some children had to ride home on a firetruck because the school buses couldn't make it through some of the roads which were already flooding.
The flood destroyed two elementary schools: one in Binghamton and one in Owego. The Binghamton school, known as MacArthur Elementary School, is located less than a mile from where I live. However, the school is located at the bottom of the hill where I live and close to the river. Water surrounded the school.
Inside, water swamped the floors, walls and classrooms. Hundreds of mud-covered chairs and desks were removed from the school and taken to the landfill. Soggy carpets, bulletin boards and library books had to be thrown away.
Children in kindergarten through third grade attend school in a former parochial school located on the other side of the city. Children in grades four and five attend another now closed parochial school located in a neighboring town. They all have a long bus ride now and will have one for several years until a new school is rebuilt.

Life Today After the Flood


Today, most of the houses that were damaged during the flood have been cleaned up. Businesses have reopened. Some houses still sit empty, weeds growing in the yards. Some people are waiting for a buy-out from the federal government. The government can buy properties which are flood-prone, demolish the buildings and keep the space green and free of any permanent structures as a way to protect against future floods.
Some people have rebuilt their homes and raised their foundations . The new MacArthur Elementary School will have a raised foundation so water can flow underneath it without damaging the classrooms.
For now, the school sits empty - waiting to be demolished. No buses stop at the school. No children play on the playground. Parents no longer stand on the sidewalk and hug their children good-bye. Everyone looks forward to the day when the new school opens. Then, the children can once again walk to their neighborhood school without fear that water will destroy their school again.

Tags

Flood, Flood Damage, Flood Damages, Flooding, Floods, Floods Havoc

Meet the author

author avatar Connie McKinney
I enjoy exercising, pets, and volunteering as well as writing about these topics and others.

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Comments

author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
8th Sep 2013 (#)

Earlier this year there was a flood south of where I live, we drove to one of the affected cities, it was quite something to see. We were there to visit relatives and it just happened to be a flood at the time.

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author avatar Fern Mc Costigan
8th Sep 2013 (#)

Everytime there's a natural disater is something to make you prepare if your city will be next. Mother Nature doesnt play fair especially when we have destryed this earth ourselves!

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
8th Sep 2013 (#)

We don't expect NY to flood. NOLA, yes, floods are expected. River valleys, flood zones -- no one is surprised. But floods can happen in many low-lying areas when there is a lot of rain unexpectedly. Even in my little town. We have one neighborhood that is affected often, and still people move there and don't leave. I supposed it is all they can afford.
Anyway, I'm glad you and yours are safe, and hope you have a higher ground to call home.

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
8th Sep 2013 (#)

You have brought the enormity of this tragedy to us, Connie. I think of the many who would have seen their lives hard work dissipate due to nature's fury. And to think how we complain about daily inconveniences! siva

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author avatar Connie McKinney
8th Sep 2013 (#)

Good point, Fern. Mother Nature isn't fair, and global warming is definitely here whether people believe it or not.

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author avatar Connie McKinney
8th Sep 2013 (#)

Mark, it's hard to describe and even photograph it. The flood was amazing but not in a good way.

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author avatar Connie McKinney
8th Sep 2013 (#)

Thanks, Phyl. Yes, I am glad we live high up and don't have to worry about floods. And I think you hit the nail on the head: some people can't afford to move. Very sad. But hopefully, people will get the buyout so they can move elsewhere. It's a long, drawn out process like all government bureaucracy is.

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author avatar Connie McKinney
8th Sep 2013 (#)

Siva, you are so right. We complain about silly things like being stuck in traffic, waiting in line at the store, etc. But some of these people literally lost everything they had in one day.

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author avatar Carol
8th Sep 2013 (#)

Oh what devastation it causes , thanks for this Connie

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author avatar Connie McKinney
8th Sep 2013 (#)

Thanks, Carol.

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author avatar Delicia Powers
9th Sep 2013 (#)

Heart breaking...and very frightening....

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author avatar Connie McKinney
9th Sep 2013 (#)

Delicia, yes, you are right: it is sad and scary.

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