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Is Help on the Way?

Flood recovery in the Mohawk Valley continues. This being a topic of surpassing local concern, I dare to write about it, even though I cannot call it “totally fun,” as my subhead promises.

FEMA has deemed individuals in Central New York unworthy of federal aid. They are helping municipalities, which is something (do I mean “municipalities”? “Towns, counties, villages and cities” seemed cumbersome) (I suppose parenthetical comments also become cumbersome, but I gotta be me). Gov. Cuomo has declared that the state will step in and help. Yesterday’s adventure involved the first step in Steven’s and my search for this help.

Actually, one could say we had already taken a first step, because we have gotten in touch with our insurance company to get a statement from them saying we’re not covered. I felt a little silly bothering them. It seems to me one could look at our policy and see there’s no flood coverage. I have also been told, by people with flood insurance, that it does not cover basements, where our damages took place. Still, “everybody” said you needed the official statement. So I bothered them.

I also called FEMA, because somebody on the local news seemed to think it was a good idea. I talked to a nice young lady who told me there really wasn’t anything she could do for me, because there had not been a declaration or delegation or something saying individuals would be helped.

So much for 800 numbers. The state sent people out to help flood victims apply for state aid. Last night (Tuesday), Steven and I went to apply.

The people were going to be at Herkimer County Community College (HCCC) Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. We went Tuesday after work. I had been going to just change my shoes and go in all my blue collar glory, but I felt grubby so decided to shower first.

Then I had to figure out what to wear, never an easy task. My green capris pants were clean and comfortable; I only needed a shirt big enough to cover my fat ass. Usually a Hawaiian shirt fit the bill, but I felt a little silly going out with my begging bowl dressed for a party. Steven was changing into more respectable-looking shorts himself. I finally settled on my t-shirt from Living History Weekend at the Fort Herkimer Church.

Some readers may think it silly that I take up a whole paragraph on wardrobe, but I like to think I was sneaking in a little fun after all.

Handy signs directed us where to go on the HCCC campus. We signed in and were given a form to fill out. Soon we were called in to talk to somebody. A nice young man went over the form with us, answered our questions and explained what would happen next. Then we had an exit interview where they asked us how it went and did we have any suggestions for improvement.

The entire process was actually fairly quick and painless. I must confess as I was debating what shirt to wear, I was fairly dreading the ordeal ahead. I thought the lines would be long, the form would be longer and I just didn’t want to mess with it. It was really not at all bad.

I asked the lady at the exit interview if they were volunteers or paid. She said she worked for the state but had volunteered to do this instead of her regular work. As it extended beyond the normal workday, she was volunteering the extra time. I thought that was pretty cool.

So did I get any help, you may ask. Well, I don’t know yet. This was only step one. But I’ll keep you posted.

All in the Same Ark

One comfort to me is that we — that is, we in the Mohawk Valley — are all going through this. Everybody is pumping out their basements. Nobody in my neighborhood has flood insurance, I don’t think. Many people who already had sump pumps “just happened to have them and have never needed them.

Astute readers may have guessed by now that this blog is segueing over into All Flood All the Time. It is the topic of the moment in the Mohawk Valley, and quite frankly, it makes me feel better to think with each new woe, “At least I can get a blog post out of this!”

It seems to me that others are showing considerably more competence at this pumping out and cleaning up stuff than me, but I’m not sure if that is really true. When I’ve spoken to my neighbors and said, “I’m just so clueless about all this,” the usual response is, “Us, too!”

I was later than others in starting the pumping thing. Others were pumping by Friday afternoon and into Friday night. My husband Steven and I got started on Saturday. A call to a company specializing in this sort of thing got us an appointment on Wednesday. Wednesday! We headed to Aubuchon in Herkimer, NY, to see what we could do right away.

We usually go to Aubuchon for this sort of thing, because they are always so informative and helpful. They did not disappoint. We purchased a sump pump, two sixty-foot garden hoses (a better buy than one hundred-footer, because of a sale) and a heavy duty extension cord. We do own a heavy duty extension cord, but neither of us could remember if it was in the dining room under the buffet or in the basement under water) (it turned out to be the dining room, but I saved the receipt).

We could not figure out how to get a basement window out so we ran the hose up the stairs and out the door. As we were messing with it, a fireman came over and said they were pumping out the neighbor’s basement next door. We were next! Woohoo!

While they were getting set up, Steven left for work. While they were pumping, the plumber showed up.

I forgot to mention that to add to our woes, the toilet was not flushing. I feared it was due to backed up sewage, but after our guy asked Steven a few questions he said he’d be over later to check it out.

One snaking later, our toilet could flush. Yay! If there was one thing that could make me feel better about everything, that was it.

I almost feel I should end today’s narrative here, because it is such a high note. It was in fact as high as my spirits rose before being — I have to say it — damped down considerable, later in the day.

Looking back, yesterday was rather a long day. I spent it alternately buoyed up by hope (oh no, more water metaphors!) and plunged into despair. We’ll end today on hope: toilet flushing, basement being pumped out. What will happen in the afternoon? Stay tuned!