Essex County, New York, was among the areas most damaged when Tropical Storm Irene moved through the region two years ago, and is still recovering. The supervisors of the two hardest hit towns in the rural Adirondack county still have vivid memories of the day the storm hit.
The spring of 2011 had been a rough one for Essex County as heavy and unusual rainstorms caused flash flooding that washed out roads and some bridges. As Tropical Storm Irene moved up the Eastern seaboard on Saturday August 27, Town of Jay supervisor Randy Douglas, who is also chair of the Essex County Board of Supervisors, thought they were prepared for the incoming storm. As the storm intensified, he was in the county Emergency Services Director’s office.
Douglas says no one could have been prepared for what happened. Even before the height of the storm, water was flowing over roads, the driving rain and wind bringing trees and power lines down.
Nearly 600 homes in the Adirondack county were damaged, the Wells Memorial Library flooded and the local fire station was demolished by storm waters.
In the neighboring town of Keene, Supervisor Bill Ferebee remembers that he had gone out to check on a pre-existing mudslide and realized Irene was already causing severe damage.
Ferebee agrees with Douglas that recovery will take at least five years.
Jay Supervisor Randy Douglas is still emotional as he remembers the weeks and months following the storm.
It’s expected that a flood buyout of homes near the Ausable River will be completed within a few months.