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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.

— “We are fortunate that the governor came and helped us out with the lifting of permits while we were still assessing,” Ferebee said. “We had the National Guard on hand to help out, and that helped us start to bounce back.”

Douglas said his encounter with the power trucks on vacation also brought back the feeling of appreciation.

“I just thought about all the people who came to help us out here,” Douglas said. “If you think about it, all of the trucks at that time were down in New York City where they were expecting a direct hit, and we still had people here to help quickly.

“The last time the governor was in the area, he asked me to come and see him and the first thing he asked me was what still needed to be done in order to recover,” Douglas added. “He was the one asking, which is far better than us having to seek him out or go to his people.”

Douglas said that there are still issues that need to be worked out like debris removal, the Upper Jay and Keene fire departments along with property acquisitions, but that the communities continued to be united.

“Is it as fast as we want it to be? No,” Douglas said. “But we are working at it. I think that this has made our community stronger. Our people are resilient and come together. Those small neighborly disputes all of the sudden didn’t mean anything.”

“We have bounced back very well, and we look good from the streetscape,” Ferebee said. “But if you get out of your car and take a walk up any of our rivers and brooks, you can see where we are still working. The staff and the residents are what have helped us get the job done. We have still got some struggles, but I love my job and what we can do. The biggest thing is that we did not lose any lives (other than a cat and a rabbit) and no one moved away who lost their homes. This truly was a situation where we were all in it together.”

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