We left early Thursday morning for Owego prepared to spend Thursday and Friday doing the assessment for Helping Hands. We arrived at the Stake Center in Owego about 9:30 am where we were trained, divided into groups of two couples each, given our assigned areas to work in and then sent out by 10:00 to begin working in our areas.
The next area we were given was in the bottom of the valley, right next to the river. What a disaster! The damage to the homes, and the piles of debris were huge. The water had not only flooded their basements, but in some areas was up to 3 or 4 feet above the main floor level. All the furnishings had to be taken out. All the dry wall that was wet has to be ripped out. All the carpeting has to be torn out. The flooring has to be ripped up. We saw some homes where the foundations caved in and the yards were in the basements. We saw two homes that had completely burned to the ground, probably due to electrical system failures.
No one can live in any of these homes currently. There is no power, water and sewage. They are just trying to get the homes emptied, repaired, and then ready for living in. It has been a week since the last storm and some had help from family, friends and their churches already. Many others however were just coming back to the disaster after having been evacuated. Others had no help and were trying to do it on their own. We were able to find some who would need the help of our Helping Hands volunteers who will be here next week. They are expecting upwards of 300 members to be there. This week the local stake is concentrating on helping their members.
Here is the river that brought all the water. It is now almost back to its normal level.
|Beautiful Susquehanna River near Owego, NY|
This is the neighboorhood we were canvassing. People were just empting out their homes and putting it on the front of their property.
These next two pictures are of the same house. Notice the gap under the front porch. The foundation has caved in. You are seeing into the basement. In the following picture the front plantings are now in the basement.
Here is one of the homes that burned
The next two pictures are a sample of the mess in downtown Owego. Piles of debris outside every building waiting to be scooped up by front loaders and hauled away by dump trucks..