July 2, 2006: Visiting in Waverly

No rest for the weary. We couldn’t bring ourselves to get up until just after eight and neither of us were feeling like we could drag our sorry butts out of bed at that point but we had to – there was just too much that had to be done today. The word of the day is “soar”. We did so much lifting, moving, cleaning, packing, organizing, etc. yesterday that we are seriously hurting.

There was more that had to be done this morning before we could leave because the house is going to be shown this week and we can’t have it being a mess. Se we started working on it right away today and put in about two more hours between the two of us getting the house into the best shape possible considering the amount of stuff that is still in the house.

I was loading the car while Dominica did the final carpet vacuuming when she called out of the garage crying. I ran into the house and discovered that Oreo who is a very nervous dog to begin with and who has separation anxiety and who gets extremely nervous under normal packing situations because he was abandoned by a family that moved to another country and who is afraid of the vacuum under the best circumstances and who had not wanted to go outside to pee yet today paniced and urinated on the white carpet from the back door all the way to the kitchen, on his pillow and on himself. When he panics like that he pees and runs and the same time so the devastation was immense. It was a swath maybe two to three feet wide and twenty to thirty feet long. It was simply unbelievable. We were both absolutely exhausted. We had thought that we were finally done for the weekend and were in a rush because we were all ready running late for getting down to Dominica’s aunt and uncle’s house in Waverly. It was just too much for Min.

I had her call her family to let them know that we would be later than we had anticipated and I set to work cleaning the floor. I had to scrub the carpeting with dad’s Bissell spot cleaner which took about an hour and a half of grueling work. Once Min talked to her sister for a little bit she calmed down and finished packing the car and then took the opportunity to do some minor stuff that helped get the house into better shape since there was only one spot cleaner between us. It took a huge chunk out of the day but we did manage to get the entire carpet cleaned and looking very good. That was exhausting. But boy are we glad that we went right at it and got it finished.

It was much later by the time we got to leave so we ran to McDonald’s and grabbed a quick lunch to eat on the way to Waverly. Once we were actually on the road we made good time going down to Waverly. It was around two in the afternoon when we arrived. We were really happy just to be able to get out of the car and relax for a while. We were going down to Waverly for an informal family reunion of Dominica’s mother’s family. Her eldest sister and her husband were in from Mission Viejo, California and no one has seen them in years so it was my chance to finally meet them and a number of other family members that I just haven’t had a chance to cross paths with. It was also the last chance that I will have to see Madeline and Emily more than a few minutes until Christmas time.

Oreo had an awesome time. There were probably forty people there and Dexter was there so they played and he ran around visiting with everyone. At one point some of the guys went out and played catch with a football in the yard and Oreo went out and chased the football between them. There were adults, not kids, so they were throwing the football a really long way. Oreo played with them for probably twenty to thirty minutes. Everyone had a great time just watching him. They couldn’t believe how fast he was and how long he would keep running. He was having so much fun. He would run so fast that if someone dropped the ball he would almost definitely beat them to it on the ground and they would have to fight him for it. By the time that they were done playing he was totally exhausted and ended up getting sick. I had to poor cold water all over him to cool him down. After that he didn’t move for the rest of the day.

Rain has apparently been neverending in the New York Southern Tier and today was no exception. A major downpour came in the middle of the afternoon – one of the heaviest rains that I have ever seen. It only lasted a few minutes but boy did it cool everything down. It blew away some temporary “party” structures that they had set up probably this morning. It may have only lasted five minutes but there was standing water everywhere when it finally subsided.

We stayed in Waverly until about six in the afternoon. We were the last to leave as we get the least opportunity to visit with everyone. The drive east along the Susquehana River to Binghamton and south into Pennsylvania was a real eye opener. We had been hearing rumours about the flooding but didn’t have any idea how bad it was. Up until this point I had only heard about lots of roads being closed – much of New Jersey was inaccessible but we hadn’t seen it, Herkimer County where Dominica’s family lives was under a state of emergency and had many roads closed and we had heard from John Stephens that his mother’s place in Owego, New York and been destroyed and that Lourdes Hospital where he works was evacuated and flooded and severly damaged but that was all that we had heard. Today we learned that US88 had had a bridge or culvert washed away and the highway was closed until they could rebuild. Two truck drivers died before anyone knew that the road was out. US86 (aka NY17) had definitely been under water in many places. I found out that the Village of Waverly had been under water but luckily Dominica’s aunt’s farm which sits directly on the river had not been damaged.

As we drove along US86 and then south on US81 the damage just continued and continued. All in all we heard that sixteen people died in the Binghamton region alone including the two truck drivers on US88 who died in Syndey. US86 runs right along the Susquehana and it was abundantly clear just how high the water had come. Mud was deposited several feet up the tree line. There were still businesses and vehicles under water. At one point we saw a full sized pickup truck with water up to its windows. And this is five days after the flood! There was water everywhere still but the mud showed how bad it had been. It is a wonder that the entire region hadn’t been destroyed. Just a few more feet of water would have done it. As it is the damage is pretty serious. Bob Crissman wrote about the flood a bit in his blog. Bob lives in Binghamton and is working over the summer at a Wendy’s in the city. His house sits very near the river but was not damaged although they were quite worried but the store where he and his wife works was flooded but survived. The whole region is a “you have to see it to believe it” kind of thing. I have never seen flooding like this before and I have seen the Genesee region under some pretty serious flooding (I was drove over the Avon bridge when water was flowing over the bridge) but that was nothing. We could see the mud on the sides of bridges and could tell that no one could have been crossing them.

Bob has supplied a number of links to images from the flood. Here are images from the Binghamton Flood on Wednesday, June 28th from the Press and Sun Bulletin. Here are images from Thursday, June 29th, also from the Press and Sun Bulletin. And then, finally, Friday, June 30th’s, images of the Binghamton Flood from the Press and Sun Bulletin.

The real devastation seemed to stretch from Waverly in the west (although I am sure that the river carried the disaster south into Sayre and on into Pennsylvania) to Binghamton and Kirkland in the east and then south again to Great Bend, Pennsylvania. We drove slowly through that area just trying to see as much as we could. It was really something.

We stopped, as usual, at the Waffle House in Clarke’s Summit, Pennsylvania and got some food on our way through. It is the best place to stop. The rest of the trip went pretty quickly and we got to the apartment in North Brunswick by around eleven. Late but not too late. Boy were we glad to be in. The apartment was way too warm from the air conditioning being off so we turned that on and didn’t go to bed until after one in the morning because it was way too warm.

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