September 27, 2011

Road Trip.

I am currently sitting in a Panera in Horseheads, New York. Today is my comp day for working the weekend, so I’m celebrating the event by going on a road trip. It’s my first time doing one of these road trips in the new Jeep. I am loving it. And I am eating healthy by eating an Asian Chicken Salad. I find it tasty.

My route of choice has taken me through the Southern Tier of New York State, mostly along the Susquehanna River thus far. Shortly, when I reach Corning (home of Corning Glass Company), I’ll turn right and head up through the Finger Lakes and then head home.

Driving along the banks of the Susquehanna River has been an eye-opening experience, and one that I was not anticipating on this trip. They are still in the process of cleaning up from the recent flooding of the river. Since I mostly avoid the interstates and drive the back roads, I am seeing a lot of homes with huge piles of what appears to be most of their belongings out by the road awaiting garbage removal. These piles include countless toys, tons of insulation that has been pulled from water sogged walls and, a little surprisingly to me, beds and mattresses, evidence that the water was high enough to flood second-story bedrooms.

While I didn’t drive into Binghamton (I try to avoid the cities on these trips as well), I was stunned by the amount of destruction in the Village of Owego and the hamlet of Tioga Center. Whole shopping centers are closed, downtown book stores are throwing away everything and boutiques and the like are dumping their contents and by the looks of it, trying to start anew.

Tears welled up in my eyes when I saw one of many banners hung from houses that were in the midst of cleanup: “We R Owego, We Will Rebuild.”

I have all of my photo and video gear with me today but I can’t bring myself to take photos of what I’m seeing. Photographing this to share on the internet seems to be callous in a way. Instead I stopped at an open snack counter, noticed one of several jugs collecting donations for local residents, and made a deposit in the jug.

As you head west out of the downtown area of Owego (which, by the way, is quite a quaint village if you’re looking for a little out of the way place to spend an afternoon sometime), there’s an area where there is just piles and piles and piles of household belongs and the remnants of buildings. I couldn’t decide if this used to be a shopping center something but now it looks like everyone is bringing their stuff here and then big trucks are taking it out. At least that’s what it looked like to me.

As I look out the window here in Panera in Horseheads, I notice that it’s raining again. And it’s raining quite hard. I’m guessing this is not the type of weather these folks need right now. I hope they continue to stay strong as they clean up and get their lives back in order.

“We Will Be Owego Again!”

All signs show that these folks are going to do just that.