It’s raining again today. Tropical storm Maria this time. She follows up tropical storm Lee, who followed hurricane Irene. Maria should be pretty calm, but the other two dropped about six inches of rain each on the farm. That’s a foot of rain in about two weeks. We made it through in one piece, but our neighboring communities were not so lucky. Today’s blog follows our experiences through what news reports have alternately called a “historic” event, a “historic” event, and a “historic” event. Local reporters apparently lost their thesauruses in the flooding.
We’ll start with Irene. She was a one night stand, starting on Saturday and going into Sunday. She dropped about six inches of rain overnight, along with some crazy winds. Those two together caused some damage.
This peach tree was toppled, but we got it back up pretty quickly. It’s recovering better than many methadone users.
We also lost some of the corn. Well, not exactly lost. We know where it is. But it is now growing parallel to the ground, which puts a bit of a damper on things. For some reason, it was mostly sweet corn that got flattened. We’re not sure if it was just in the wrong place, or if the roots were weaker, or what, but we’ve only got a few standing stalks of sweet corn left. The corn for drying and grinding is still doing alright.
As we were just getting ready to recover from Irene as the rain slowed down Sunday morning, the power went out. We were running on the generator for about 36 hours until things were back to normal. There was a brief period of time when the generator wouldn’t start and we were worried about losing a season’s worth of frozen veggies, but a little bit of investigative tinkering fixed things.
A week after Irene cried her eyes out all over the farm, the ground was still pretty saturated. And then tropical storm Lee settled in like the stomach ache you get from the eponymous deli’s Chinese lunch buffet in San Francisco.
Irene at least had the decency not to stick around. She came in, knocked around a bit, but then excused herself and kept on moving. Lee was like the worst house guest ever — he moved in for nearly five continuous days of steady rain, refusing all of our polite tips that maybe he would enjoy visiting another part of the world, like the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
In all seriousness, Lee was problematic for us and fairly devastating for a lot of the nearby areas. The storm quickly flooded every local stream and tributary. We became pretty isolated when all of the bridges across the Susquehanna River were closed. Then we became almost entirely isolated when our county declared a travel ban. We were stuck in the cabin for five days, unable to get anywhere. We still had power, plenty of food, and water. But if you have ever questioned the legitimacy of cabin fever, please allow me to formally vouch for its existence.
We were stuck at home while we watched our neighbors in Dushore get flooded. We made it into town a day or two after the water receded to see how things were going. This was the second major flood they had this year, but the community is recovering.
We still couldn’t get anywhere as we heard the news reports that Wilkes-Barre had the highest river levels in history, beating Hurricane Agnes in the 70s. We could only watch as the flood images from West Pittston started getting posted online, eventually prompting a story from the NY Times about their decision to forego levies after Agnes to keep their river view. And we couldn’t get in to help as Nick’s hometown of Duryea began to flood, displacing hundreds from the small town. His grade school, Holy Rosary, is currently closed for cleanup, and students have been moved to another school in Avoca.
This storm was devastating for so many people, many of whom were outside the expected flood plain. These people were told they did not need flood insurance, but some have lost everything. FEMA has finally stepped in to provide direct assistance, but it will be some time before the money actually shows up. Roads to Duryea from the farm were finally open in the past day or two, and we took a trip to check things out. As we drove along the Susquehanna River, we saw home after home, business after business, with piles of ruined belongings on the curb. High water marks were above the first floor for some homes. The national guard is blocking off Main Street, Duryea. If you can, please consider donating directly to those impacted here: NEPA Flood Relief.
Our tribulations are considerably more minor in relation to those communities hit hardest. The incredible amount of rain wiped out most of the field. It didn’t get washed away, but it did flood out many of our plants. We’re hoping the onions and drying beans will be ok, along with the winter squash. Everything else looks done for the year.
The waterfall you see above didn’t exist before all of this rain. What was previously a nondescript hill is now a six foot waterfall. It’s way over on the south end of the farm, away from anywhere we are planting. More flood pictures are up at our Flickr site, which you can get to by clicking any of the images.
And so we’re waiting to dry out. The farmer’s market was cancelled last week, due mostly to the fact that the road it is on was under a few feet of water. It’s back on tomorrow, and we’ll be there with baked goods and some of Allie’s jams. But today, tropical storm Maria is sobbing overhead.