The group headed on a 40 minute ride out to Fort Plain with SALT. The town was hit with severe flooding from the Otsquago Creek. Due to heavy rains the creek rose very quickly not giving many people enough time to get out. The Main Street had 3.5 ft of water and left 3 inches of mud left behind. FEMA was only staying until Wednesday to haul away debris so there was a time crunch as after that deadline, the homeowners would have to pay for removal of the debris.
We were split up into two groups. Four people went to go help a photography studio and the rest of us went to a house that was hit hard. When we stepped inside the house we immediately couldn't believe the devastation throughout the house. The house was barely recognizable as a place that people lived in. In the back of the house there was a bunch of valuables that the owner had to go through to decide what was/wasn't trash Our jobs consisted of sweeping, taking down walls, carrying damaged items to the curb, and taking out bathtubs. At the end of the day, it definitely made us appreciate what we have and made us be thankful for what we didn't lose during our storms.
It was a fun but tiring day. It feels really rewarding knowing we helped a family out. When we took a break we stood on the sidewalk and this old man was walking towards us. He started cracking jokes and it really made us realize that these people can smile after all the things they've been through.
When it was time for lunch, the SALT coordinators encouraged us to head to the Methodist church where members were providing free lunches for volunteer workers. They said there was often things like fried chicken - yum! But when we arrived it was a little late and all they had left were PB & J sandwiches and watermelon. It was hard to be disappointed when we saw their welcoming smiles. They were so apologetic and after a bathroom break and watermelon appetizer they sent us to the Senior Center where we heard there was Macaroni & Cheese! Now the kids (and truth be told, some adults) were really happy to hear that! Except when we got there - you guessed it - they had just finished up the last of the Mac & cheese!! But they filled our plates with extra stewed tomatoes and sautéed apples and were so happy that they could be doing something for us! The hospitality and gratitude shown to us by the people in Fort Plain was really heartwarming.
As we drove home, Sandy and Peter took the group out for ice cream because it was their anniversary.
Driving through the area, we noticed the places that appeared obviously destructed by the storm. The river was filled with debris, roofs were on the ground and structures were collapsed. One thing that surprised us the most is when Bridget pointed out a family that had a nice house that seemed to be okay after the storm, but truthfully had experienced a lot of troubles. She explained the entire bottom floor of their house was demolished and had trouble getting the insurance to help refurbish the important, now useless rooms like the kitchen, bathrooms, etc.
The story truly shows that there is more to a person or place besides their/its appearance.
The group returned home tired and in need of showers!
While the group was in Fort Plains -
Eiko and Erica held a bell workshop for 5 new ringers. In the two hour time, these new ringers learned about bells, how to ring them and by the end were prepared to ring for our Thursday evening service. The 3 octave set of bells we used were the ones that were covered in mud and muck, and now were ready to ring. The refurbishment of the bells were thanks to donations by other bell choirs from benefit concerts held, like the Hudson Valley Handbell Festival held in Nyack, that our ringers attend every year. Not only were they refurbished but the new cases were bought since the old cases were water logged.
Once everyone returned tired and exhausted, it was our evening to cook dinner together at the church. Eiko took the ringers to rehearse for Thursday's service while the rest were left to prepare dinner. Sara and her husband Todd and their daughter returned to join us for dinner. Cake was bought from the local farm to celebrate the wedding anniversary.
Fellowship followed with chess and monopoly by some. Marianne, Patrick and Luke made the local news that night about the clean up that was happening in Fort Plains.
Kristin, Jessica, Barbara and Ginger