October 15, 2014 at 4:04 am #27015
I used to live several blocks away from Zone A in NYC. When Mayor Bloomberg issued a mandatory evacuation for Zone A before Hurricane Irene came ashore my lady and I decided to go upstate to the Catskills to avoid any potential flooding. We were located at ground level and we had little faith that our apartment would not get flooded. As luck would have it our apartment was fine when we got back. Unfortunately for a lot of residents in the Catskill Region they were on the receiving end of Hurricane Irene.
After we got to our destination we went to the Fresh Town in Margaretville, NY to do some groceries and stock up on water before the hurricane hit NYC. We expected some rain and some wind. I have been going to the Catskill region with my family for 26 years and we never thought that a hurricane would cause any damage at all. Unfortunately I was severely wrong. It started to rain around 1 pm or so in the afternoon on our way back from the store on Saturday.
When we got home we turned on the TV and watched the reports along the East coast. We were hopeful that he storm would slow down and not hit New York State too hard. I kept calling my family in the city to get periodic updates. They said everything was going ok and that it wasn’t that bad. When I called on Sunday the 28th they said that everything was great. There was no flooding in their homes and the sun was out.
Meanwhile in the Catskills the rain was relentless and showed no sign of stopping. Previously it rained all night and through out the day on Sunday. We heard local radio reports that some local towns were flooding but we didn’t know how severe it was. We were loosing power intermittently and finally around 5pm on Sunday we lost the power all together. I cooked our dinner on a gas grill in the rain while wearing my water proof boots, jacket and pants. After dinner we listened to the radio by candle light and played monopoly. We decided to go to bed early and wake up in the morning and get a fresh start on our journey home to NYC.
When we woke up we were surprised that the power was restored. We quickly realized the day before that we were really fond of electricity and flowing water and we were very happy to have it back. While watching the news we saw video of a river raging through Margaretville. We saw the CVS Pharmacy and the Fresh Town adjoined to it being completely ravaged by water. It was heart breaking. Fresh Town came in a short while ago and took over for the A & P that was in town previously. The company did an outstanding job in renewing the building and having a great selection of produce and beer. Now the whole building was destroyed by the worst natural disaster that I ever personally witnessed in my life.
After witnessing the flooding in Margaretville, NY and the near complete annihilation of Prattsville, NY on TV I started to get seriously concerned regarding our departure from the Catskills. The irony wasn’t lost on me and my significant other. We went to the Catskills to escape the potential damage in NYC to only find ourselves in the middle of a serious natural disaster with almost no way out.
We packed up our things and closed up the house and headed out on route 30 to find that it was closed. After speaking to a NY State Trooper we found out that Route 23 north of us was closed too, as well as parts of the NY State Thruway. He suggested we head back home and hunker down till the roads were cleared. Both of us had work the next day so we decided to take the long way home. We traveled west through the mountains to Oneonta, NY and then towards Binghamton, NY before catching route 8 south and then onto to 86 west to the Palisades Parkway south bound into NYC. The total trip time with rest stops and traffic was 7 and 1/2 hours, which is about 4 and 1/2 hours longer than it would take usually. We got home safe and sound and we learned some lessons along the way.October 15, 2014 at 3:33 pm #27060
flatlander, thank you so much for sharing this! I remember Irene very well. We had the house for little over a year and the basement flooded to about a knee high depth. That was relatively minor compared to what happened up by you in the Catskills.
Irene also serves as an example of the government getting it wrong and how we should NOT rely on them. A friend of mine was in the Air National Guard at the time and was deployed to NYC in anticipation of the storm. Many National Guard assets were relocated from Occupied NY to the city because the Little Prince Cuomo needed to protect and impress his constituents in Metropolis. He left the Upstate exposed and vulnerable. When the storm hit and devastated the region, assets had to be pulled from other parts of the state, mainly the State Troopers, which incurred ridiculous amounts of overtime for many state employees and nearly bankrupted us…again. To date, there are still many parts of the Catskill Region that have not recovered. It’s tragic. The wife and I enjoy going for the occasional day trip up to the mountains and I’ve even been to that Freshtown that you mentioned. I’ve also hiked Kaaterskill Falls and just walked around towns like Phoenecia and Tannersville…all of which are still recovering to some degree. Also, I remember back in my youth, I used to take a yearly trip from the Downstate area to Cobbleskill for the annual Am-Jam motorcycle rally at the fairgrounds. I always loved the little clusters of towns I’d encounter along Routes 23 and 145 through Catskill, Durham and such. When I went through there back in 2012 most of what I remember was gone…washed away or abandoned. I was also amazed at all the real estate for sale up in that region. It was truly a “life after people” setting and somewhat depressing.
So it was after Irene that you became serious about prepping? Before Irene, did you consider the Catskills to be an acceptable prepper environment? Would you consider any parts of that region acceptable now? Did your family decide to leave the Catskills after that? I think that what you encountered is a valuable lesson in prepping and I wish I knew more people who were caught up there when it happened. I appreciate your input!
"If I'm gonna die, I'm gonna die historic on the Fury Road."October 15, 2014 at 6:54 pm #27093
TY for sharing. Crazy how the best laid plans all need to be subject to change… Semper Gumby – Always flexible.
http://ageofdecadence.comOctober 16, 2014 at 1:57 am #27117
Where I live in VT there is only one paved road into and out of my little valley, plus a couple dirt roads within the valley such as the one I live on that mostly stay within the valley. I was still working down in MA and when I went to head back down there Sunday afternoon I found the paved road was flooded in both directions. I knew better than to try and weave my way out via the dirt roads so I sent my boss a message saying I’d leave about 6AM and would be in about 8:30 because I needed to go home first (in MA) before coming into the office. My normal 2 hour 105 mile drive ended up taking me 6 hours and over 200 miles. I’m on the Western side of VT and needed to get to the East side and there literally were no roads open. I’d get so far and a bridge would be washed out or a road still flooded and I’d turn around to try a different route.
In a stroke of good luck however, the Friday coming into that weekend I had a utility sink installed in my basement. Water coming off the mountain flooded my yard but didn’t quite reach the house. By that evening the ground was so saturated that water started coming up through the floor in my basement. We never lost power and so I was able to use the shop vac to suction it up and dump it into my new utility sink as opposed to having to carry it up the bulkhead stairs as would have been the case 2 days prior.
Watching the aftermath and recovery process in VT gave me great assurance that I had chosen well in picking VT to relocate to. Within a day VT had published maps on its website on the status of all damaged bridges and roads, with regular updates in real time. Emergency repairs were quickly made (including temporary bridges where feasible), just enough in many cases to allow vehicular traffic even if it meant a formerly paved road was now a dirt road, and then over the next year the permanent repairs occurred, as opposed to MA which suffered far less damage but just left things closed down long term while they did studies and worked towards permanent solutions, some of which weren’t even started a year later. More importantly average citizens that had equipment set out doing road repairs gratis in their neighborhoods and towns. In one isolated town people quickly build a half mile path through the woods so that kids could get to where a school bus could pick them up. They even put down wood chips so that the kids wouldn’t get muddy and organized security to assure the kid’s safety. In a number of isolated places that no vehicles could get in or out, people with ATV’s started driving into town to get prescriptions filled, get food etc. In my area the National Guard came in from I forget what State to put a river back into its channel. They camped out in a sports facility and local people started cooking meals and bringing it to them. One place where the bridge was washed out, the drive around was literally 50 miles so the locals build a footbridge themselves and the landowners on both sides let people park on their lawns on one side, walk across the bridge and then head on to work in a car that had been placed on the other side. The New England Yankee cultural heritage of our Puritan forebears was still alive and well. Towns are mostly run by volunteers and committees here and the community consensus approach we live with with our Town Meeting form of govt. lent itself well to recovery efforts snapping into place virtually overnight. Irene was the worst natural disaster in VT in living memory.October 16, 2014 at 8:44 am #27132
MountainBiker thank you for sharing your experience. It’s good to hear that there are still communities that help each other out.
Inshala I have been prep minded since my teens. The Catskills are a great place to be a prepper as most everyone who lives there year round is self reliant. My family has no intention of leaving the area as it is a great place to be. The area is experiencing a resurgence and more people are buying up properties and moving in. I’d recommend anything not near one of the reservoirs so as not run into the wrath of the DEP.October 16, 2014 at 12:48 pm #27141
Going off a bit of a tangent here. I know that the Catskills have many vacation properties owned by Metro NYC folks but I am not familiar with their dispersal. These folks will relocate to those properties should the SHTF and so they are a variable in looking at locations. Most likely they will arrive unprepped and without much in the way of useful skills, and as is often the case with affluent people, feeling entitled to having their needs fulfilled because they can write checks to make it happen. VT is chock full of 2nd homes owned primarily by folks from Metro NYC/NJ/CT. MA folks tend to have 2nd homes in NH & ME rather than VT. 2nd homes in VT tend to congregate in ski resort communities, on lakes, and in a few affluent small town enclaves. When I was looking for property I thus avoided ski resort communities, lakes and those affluent enclaves. 2nd homes will be found almost anywhere however. There is one owned by a NJ family about a mile up the road from me. Haven’t met them yet as they are hardly ever there. There is another owned by a guy from CT on the other side of the mountain that I have to pass by in order to go into town. He is there almost every weekend and often has other out-of-state visitors. Haven’t met him either. I don’t see any signs of either being preppers such as I was when I came here.
Edited to add that recently a couple from CT bought a place just up the road from me. This is a 3rd or 4th home for them (winter at home in FL, summer at a lake house in NH, and I’m not sure if they still have the CT house). My neighbor has been doing a lot of property and house renovation for them and so I’ve been getting the scoop. They will be useful in a SHTF scenario being she is a medical doctor (but earns her living as an author). They as well seem very down to earth and have had my neighbors (who live in a trailer) up for dinner and invited them to visit in FL. I am intrigued as to why they bought that place in this location as it doesn’t fit the normal vacation home stereotype. When they are in town again I will drop by with a loaf of bread to say welcome, but that may not be until next year as they’re traveling out of the country now and will then go to FL for the winter. You can’t see their property from the road but I’ve been up there when my neighbor was working and can see it being used as a bug out location.October 16, 2014 at 8:55 pm #27169
MountainBiker the Catskills does have a lot of city folks buying places as vacation homes. I have a lot of experience in being under estimated by people because of the way I look, dress and speak. I’ve done plenty in my past that would make me useful but folks wouldn’t know it because they assume the worst since I work in an office in the city.
I also don’t mention what I’ve done in the past initially since it sounds like bragging and there is no need to advertise that I’m a prep minded individual. It’s an interesting position to be in since it allows me to see both sides of the coin.
In an ideal world it would be great to be surrounded by like minded individuals and friends and family but I don’t see that happening any time soon because of work.
I read One a Second After and in one part of the book they are questioning the usefulness of some of the residents who own 2nd homes in the town. I understand that they were thinking of survival by keeping the amount of residents in town to a minimum. But how and who would decide who stays and who goes and what reprisals would come from those who were kicked out of there legally purchased homes? Just something to think about.
Edit. I’m not suggesting you or your fellow neighbors would kick people out but it’s a possibility in other towns and was a topic briefly brought up in the TV show Jericho and is interesting to think about and discuss.October 18, 2014 at 1:21 pm #27334
Coming from an area that sees a lot of hurricanes I will say that most folks freak out when a big storm comes. That’s obvious. So much of the danger with hurricanes is where exactly in the storm your home falls. All parts of the hurricane are made equal. I learned my lesson with hurricane Floyd as a college student. I didn’t follow the storms projected path very closely and left the coast for Raleigh, in the middle of the state. Raleigh was pounded much more than where I was originally. Wasn’t the government’s fault for planning. It’s just how the storm turned when it hit land. The eastern 1/3 of the state was essentially cut off for a couple of weeks due to flooding.October 18, 2014 at 3:04 pm #27340
Blaze, the coast may get the wind but the inland areas sometimes get the flooding which does more damage than the wind. The year I graduated from high school there were “unprecedented” floods where I lived. My Dad was out of work for a couple months as a result and I saw how close my neighborhood came to going underwater. Ever since then I have always reviewed topo maps for anyplace I was considering living. I am convinced that nobody should ever be surprised that their property has flooded. You can also see where dams are and know where the water will go should the dam break. Irene was the storm of a lifetime here in VT and wasn’t anything I expected when I bought my place but despite much of my yard flooding as water came off the mountain faster than the stream could carry it away I knew it would never get to the house itself based on the topo maps.
flatlander, I expect that the folks in my little hamlet will attempt to include everyone, fulltime resident or not, in our mutual support efforts come SHTF. That’s the culture here. My issue with not wanting to be where there are too many 2nd home owners from Metro NYC (which includes the NJ & CT folks for the most part) is not an us/them but rather just the practical matter of whether they are prepared to be part of the mutual assistance solution in a SHTF scenario. Do they have practical country living or other skills or knowledge that will be useful? There are country estate level places here but for the most part it is a working class neighborhood where folks all have some amount of practical skills out of either necessity or lifestyle. I didn’t want to be in an area with mostly affluent people who generally hire others to do all the work. I know that some of the urbanites will be incredibly useful and am instead just talking on average. Any urbanite on this forum and similar forums would be a great addition to any rural community because they would bring useful skills and knowledge with them.October 18, 2014 at 4:13 pm #27343
There are two groups of people in Ny. The paranoid and un-paranoid. Those groups generally correspond here to upstaters and downstaters. Its been that way for a long time. But since Cuomo dumped the 2nd amendment with the help of his cronies downstate the suspicion has been magnified 100%. Nyc can die of ebola faic.October 18, 2014 at 4:33 pm #27347
Mountain Biker, thank you for sharing your experiences during Irene as well. You should go into real estate…you have me checking out properties in Vermont! I have considered Vermont in the past. There is also this guy I served with overseas, who lives in the Boston Metro area, who swears on Maine. He has hunting property up there and makes frequent visits. Although he has never identified himself as a prepper nor talked about the subject at length, I have a feeling that is the primary reason for the property. I have to admit that I have never been to neither Vermont nor Maine and really should start looking beyond my boundaries. My personal limitations are finance, family, and familiarity. I am actively working to overcome these obstacles.
You reminded me of something that I almost totally forgot: The good Samaritan element. Sometimes I get so caught up in the negative aspect of a SHTF situation that I forget about the good that comes out of it as well. All of the rural areas have volunteer fire and EMT only. These selfless people spent countless hours doing clean up and public safety tasks that helped recover much of the devastated area. There simply weren’t enough paid state and local employees to accomplish this job in a practical amount of time. When citizens realized this, many people, not affiliated with any kind of public service, began lending a hand as well. It was similar to what you described and I remember that it restored part of my faith in humanity…at least for the local permanent residents.
Also, you bring an interesting subject into the conversation: Home ownership. There are a lot of secondary, tertiary, and so forth properties in this area. I actually look upon theses properties as a benefit to those of us who are native to our respective areas. I sincerely doubt that most of them would be able to make it out of the city in time during a SHTF situation. Those properties would be excellent settlements to additional members of a survival group if they went unoccupied by their legal owners. As far as the dynamic of a Citiot culture becoming dominant in their bug-out locations, I think that they’d be in for a rude awakening no matter how affluent. Who knows?
flatlander, I believe there might be a resurgence of real estate sales in the Catskill on the speculation of a casino. Recently, the Catskill area has been kicking around the idea of opening a casino in hopes of revitalizing the economy. To me, this is a severe “red flag” and has me keeping a cautious eye on that region. Other than that, it has a lot of potential and I think that your family is smart for staying put. I also thought about the Schoharie region north of the Catskills since it has always been the “bread basket” of NY. Unfortunately, Irene proved that it is a flood plain (probably why it’s so fertile) and was also endanger of the Gilboa Dam failing.
"If I'm gonna die, I'm gonna die historic on the Fury Road."October 18, 2014 at 6:13 pm #27351
Hello Inshala. You know, in my experience, when the Citiots outnumber the locals they immediately take advantage of it. Codes ordinances zoning planning committees, taxes, reassessments etc. You don’t own your land anymore, they do. But in turn they get outnumbered by newbies buying property. Thus comes the wicked little race to get state grants for everything. Build it grow it sell it move on. The locals are the ones stuck with the bills. The Catskills are a nice place to visit but… faith in humanity, leave it at the door. Ny is one of the highest taxes states. And just about everyone probably will get Lime disease. Not to mention there’s been about two decades of very light snow years. Thats why the locals who endured over time are more like ticks. They were tenacious and nasty people who welcomed people in the summer but were very glad to send them home in the fall.
Besides which the area already has jewish militia on one side and muslim enclaves on the other. All of the just want to be left alone. Really thats why people go to the mountains in the first place.October 18, 2014 at 6:20 pm #27352
Inshala, you can’t go wrong with Maine as a location either. If I didn’t live in VT, I’d want to be in Maine (and after that in the Canadian Maritimes).
I hadn’t thought about 2nd homes being vacant if the owners couldn’t make it out of the urban areas, but there are many scenarios where that could be the case. It might be a tough call as to when to conclude they’re not going to make it. Until that point my nature would be to try and make sure the property is secured and maintained as may be needed.October 18, 2014 at 7:22 pm #27355
Brulen, it sounds like you are very familiar with that area! I won’t inquire as to how, but you made some solid points that only somebody from the area knows.
Maybe I’m just an optimist, but I think that Citiots are outnumbered in that area for now, but that dynamic could change at anytime. I witnessed demographics change forever in areas north of Westchester and Rockland counties after September 11, 2001 when all the refugees headed out of NYC. To be fair, a lot of them were decent people who wanted to be safe and changed their philosophies. They bought land, guns, ammo, and 4X4’s to name a few. They sought to become part of the community and watched, listened, and stayed out of people’s business. Unfortunately, the rest of them, which happened to be the majority, were “citiots”. They moved north with the intention of bringing the city with them and refused to adapt. They became involved with local governments and changed policy to whatever was the progressive issue of the day, ie. fracking. They bought up and tore down farms, orchards, and cow pastures and made Long Island-style cul-de-sac communities and banded together. So, yes….solid point, but where do you take a stand and plant your flag? That is my mission: To find out.
The Catskills do have a strong presence of Jewish encampments. After all, they’re not called the “Jewish Alps” for nothing. I haven’t noticed anything militarized, though. Most of the Jewish settlements seem to be occupied and run by Hasidim. A lot of them are abandoned and the rest appear to be in severe disrepair. I’m not aware of any Islamist enclaves in that area as they tend to be urbanized and gravitate to their mosques. I’m not saying it’s not true, just that I was unaware. I’ve only made incursions into those mountains and never stayed for any duration which is why I asked flatlander about it in the first place.
As for Lime disease…meh. I’m not going to sweat that. If it happens, it happens. I’ve known many people who are not your outdoors-type contract it. Without proper attention, I imagine the entire Atlantic Northeast could be infected, not just mountain folk.
I appreciate the input. Indeed, people who are attracted to the mountains just want to be left alone.
"If I'm gonna die, I'm gonna die historic on the Fury Road."October 18, 2014 at 8:35 pm #27357
Inshala here is a link about the muslim camp in the Catskills near Deposit NY. http://www.foxnews.com/story/2007/06/12/islamberg-terror-compound-in-new-york-or-misunderstood-neighbors/
Brulen I agree with you that the locals in the Catskills want the vacationers to go away after the summer. I find that is the case with all seasonal communities. My wife’s Uncle lives in a beach side community and the locals constantly gripe about the tourists who provide them with 90% of their income. New Yorkers state wide are a tough people. I lived there for 30 years. I think the population density, high taxes, and corrupt politics makes (made) us grumpy. I currently live in the North West and it’s like a different world over here. There’s a tenth of the population and folks are happier overall but considerably worse drivers.
Mountain Biker how would you go about dealing with owners making it to their home after it has been given to someone else? I’m sure they would be elated that they made it then frustrated with the prospect of strangers using their home and supplies.
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