Updated 08/27/2012 11:28 AM
One year later, Prattsville still rebuilding
Looking back, some of the most memorable images of Irene’s wrath came from a small town in Greene County. Prattsville received national attention as a community almost entirely wiped off the map. Our Megan Cruz was there that August morning, stranded alongside many of Prattsville’s residents. She went back a year later to see how they’re doing, to find that the town is still struggling and many are not sure of the future.
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PRATTSVILLE, N.Y. -- As much as Emily Morse and her family tried to prepare for this, the tears came down as the walls came down. This had been the family’s home for generations in a house the town’s founder built that last year, Irene destroyed. It’s been a year - but it’s just now being demolished.
“To know I can't go back there...We raised our children in that home," said Morse said.
Dave Rikard knows exactly how his neighbor feels. His home was torn down the day before Thanksgiving.
“We just kind of stood around and watched all that hard work come down,” said Rikard.
Eighteen hours. That’s how long Irene was in Prattsville. Cleaning up after her has taken much longer.
“A lot of people have kept saying about it bouncing back. I think it's a very slow bounce,” said Rikard.
Houses are still uninhabitable, the Town Hall is only half-operational, and businesses are still making repairs. As for the people here, they say they’re still plagued with memories of Irene’s visit.
“Every time it rains. And the 28th of every month," said Morse.
The day after Irene, Rikard’s house was still standing, but sinking slowly. Inside…
“Shambles. Like I said, like the Titanic. It looks like a sunken ship," said Rikard.
“It looked like a war zone here,” said Morse.
It’s been a year, and both say they still feel like refugees.
“That's kind of what you are when you have to grab whatever belongings you have and get the hell out and try to find some place else to shelter,” said Rikard.
For Emily Morse and her husband, it’s meant moving into a FEMA trailer back in February. Before that, they lived with Emily’s sister.
“FEMA supplies the microwave, the stand, the TV is ours, the fridge, the stove...That's it! In a nutshell. Very easy to clean,” said Morse.
A sad substitute, because what's missing are the irreplaceable items: family heirlooms, old photos, memories they had hoped to make.
“My first daughter's wedding. Because she was able to get dressed upstairs in her bedroom. And knowing that Kim won't be able to do that and have memories of our house when she gets married is hard. That's hard,” said Morse.
"Not a day goes by that someone doesn't say, "Oh! Where are you living now?’" said Rikard.
Dave’s current answer is with his mom, a mile out of Prattsville. Before that, he was in Windham with his two kids. Dave says it’s a bit snug, but it’s better than bouncing around from place to place. That stability is especially important for his son, Jamison.
Emily and Dave are just two out 120 families whose homes were flooded. Prattsville’s Town Supervisor says he’s surprised by how many chose to give up and go.
“Not as many as you'd expect. There's a certain few, 20 or so that left Prattsville. But for the most part, everybody is staying and rebuilding and putting their roots right here again,” said Town Supervisor Kory O’Hara.
But part of moving forward is making sure the past doesn't repeat itself. That's why O'Hara says the town is considering a number of flood mitigation projects, including replacing the bridge on Route 23.
"I want to look forward. I don't want to keep dredging up the past," said O’Hara.
"Put this behind us and move on," said Morse. "Start over."