WAMC New York News
8:19 am
Tue August 30, 2011

Clean Up Begins in Greene County After Massive Flooding

Windham, N.Y. – National Guard trucks and heavy machinery were chugging west along Route 23 in Greene County all day. They dodged orange cones marking where the road had washed-out on their way to help clean up communities devastated by Sunday's flooding.

The towns of Windham, Ashland, and Prattsville took the brunt of the damage when the Schoharie Creek overflowed its banks.

Outside the town library in downtown Windham, Dawn Gurecki and others are grilling as many burgers and hot dogs as they can.

The operation started yesterday with just hot coffee and doughnuts and grew from there.

"Rocking Mexicana donated chimmy-changas and corn and stuff, "Gurecki said between serving food. "It's just people from their homes; their freezers are thawing and we're just feeding people, feeding the workers. No one in town can do anything, so it's just banning together."

Across the street, Rocco DiPippa is trying to clean out the basement of his Mill Rock Restaurant. He says the biggest thing he needs right now is clean water.

"We'll regroup," DiPippa said as he moved hoses running from the basement. "It'll take some time. I'm very fortunate I didn't have any damage upstairs in the restaurant. All the mechanics are down in the basement so that's my primary concern. My next concern is to get fresh water so I can start to clean up."

The damage only gets as worse you continue down Main Street. Sidewalks are missing and huge crevasses line the street. Outside the country store, cars sit half-buried in what was once the parking lot.

Some front yards closer to the banks of the Schoharie are still under water.

Electricity is just starting to return to parts of Windham. But it will be several days longer before everyone's lights are on and tap water is flowing again.

Several miles away at Greene County's emergency headquarters in Cairo, County Administrator Shaun Groden is still trying to grapple with how to deal with towns that have been almost entirely wiped out.

"The devastation is going to be immense. It'll be weeks before people can maybe even get back to houses or dig out and clean out, all that type of stuff," Said Groden.

The county is working to organize a clothing and food drive soon to help people hardest hit, according to Groden.

In mean time, back in Windham, Gurecki and her friends will be manning the grills until they run out of food to give out.