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Tropical Storm Irene remembered in hardest hit communities

Town of Keene Supervisor Bill Ferebee, left, and town Highway Department employee Ryan Hall Tuesday, Aug. 28 put up one of two banners on the Marcy Field building thanking people for supporting the recovery effort for Tropical Storm Irene, which caused a lot of damage to roadways, bridges and buildings. It was the one-year anniversary of the storm.

Town of Keene Supervisor Bill Ferebee, left, and town Highway Department employee Ryan Hall Tuesday, Aug. 28 put up one of two banners on the Marcy Field building thanking people for supporting the recovery effort for Tropical Storm Irene, which caused a lot of damage to roadways, bridges and buildings. It was the one-year anniversary of the storm. Photo by Andy Flynn.

— “I had heard that there was the chance of a hurricane, but being from the south I remembered that there was a lot of wind and a lot of rain. What I hadn’t thought about was they were a lot more prepared when it came to issues like water runoff because they had experienced it so many times.”

Both supervisors awoke to the heavy rains on the morning of Aug. 28 that announced the arrival of what was then Tropical Storm Irene, and watched through the morning as both the winds and intensity of the rain picked up.

“At about noon, I told my wife that I wanted to drive into Keene Valley and check out where we had recently had mudslides,” Ferebee said. “The river was up a little bit, but I was not concerned then. At about 3 p.m., it was really pouring and I decided that I wanted to take another look at the slides. Going to Marcy Field, there was water over the road. A half-hour later, you could only get to the rock cut and the road was flooded. to see that much of a rise in the water in that little amount of time, that is when I realized that we were in trouble.”

“We kept trying all morning to find out where the storm was going, and I remember coming into the house once and telling my wife that I had never seen it rain this hard before,” Douglas said. “Eventually Chris Garrow (Jay DPW Superintendent) said he wanted to go to Lewis to get a generator from the county. When we got to Lewis, Don Jaquish (County Emergency Services Director) was on the phone with the National Weather Service. They were asking if he knew who the supervisors of Jay and Black Brook were. Don said that he had one of them standing next to him. The guy from the weather service then said that we needed to be prepared because Jay was going to get hit harder with this storm then it had ever been hit before.”

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