The Daily Star —
If life hands you a flood, make a festival. In August 2011, life dealt out a flood to several of the communities in the area as part of the aftermath of Hurricane Irene. Now, one year later, people are taking a break from the ongoing recovery to have a little fun.
Prattsville residents will be celebrating the mud they experienced with Mudfest today and tomorrow. Schoharie county will show how “Country Strong” it is with a family fun event Sunday; Delaware County will be filling residents with food and information this coming Thursday.
People who gather on the town green in Prattsville today and tomorrow are embracing the mud experience from a year ago.
“After Irene, all our homes, businesses, churches — everything in town was covered in mud,” said Greg Town, co-pastor of the Dutch Reformed Church in Prattsville. “It was brown from everyone’s yards to inside people’s homes. In our church, there was 10 inches of mud alone on each of the pews.”
Instead of being frustrated by the experience, the town decided to revel in it with a mud-themed festival.
Today’s events will kick off at 4 p.m. with a play, a water-blessing ceremony and a picnic followed by fireworks. On Sunday, the churches of the area will gather at 9 a.m for a joint service. Then at 11 a.m., the residents will put on their muckboots once again and march from the town green to the water treatment plant where two tournaments will take place – mud volleyball and tug-of-war. People who would like to join in the tournaments will be charged $20 to enter one tournament or $30 for both. The fees will be used to cover the prizes awarded at the end of each tournament.
Throughout the rest of the day, people can enjoy carnival rides, music and several other mud-themed events, including a Dirtiest Car contest, a muddy Slip and Slide and a dirty dunk tank. Mud-themed food such as mud pancakes, mud fudge and dirt desserts will also be available at area businesses.
Schoharie County will be hosting a family fun event called “Country Strong” on Sunday from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Schoharie County Fairgrounds in Cobleskill.
FEMA records show that 2,040 Schoharie County homes were affected by the flood of 2011.
“We know that approximately 15 to 20 percent of people affected are back in their homes, not 100 percent complete, but pretty settled,” the representative for Schoharie Area Long Term (SALT), Sarah Goodrich, said. “We know, on the other end of the scale, that there are 15 to 20 percent who have barely started. They just haven’t been able to move forward for one reason or another. And in the middle there are many people, 60 to 70 percent, who have been gradually working and moving ahead — some are quite close and some are in the early stages.”
Goodrich estimates that another two years will pass before everyone is in their homes and says that SALT expects the area to become vibrant again two to four years from now.
“We keep supporting them. We do our best to continue to bring in funding so that we can help more people,” Goodrich said. “We try to focus on safe, sanitary and secure. If we can get people back into situations that meet those three requirements, we’ve accomplished a lot.”
“The event has dual purpose,” event coordinator Melissa Jones said. “We want people to take a break, relax, look back, reflect. At the same time, we’re getting the word out that there’s a long way to go yet.”
Admission to the Country Strong event is free and includes free access to bounce houses, a rock-climbing wall, pony rides, music and other events. There will also be more than 50 vendors on hand – several of which were directly affected by the flood. Vendor space at the event is free. Jones welcomes any vendors who would like to participate to call her at 518-231-9034 or to come down to the fairgrounds today between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. or tomorrow after 10 a.m.
Funds for ongoing flood relief in Schoharie County will be raised at the event through a raffle of a 42-inch flat-screen T.V., donated by Rent-a-Center, and an auction of numerous gift certificates, donated by several area businesses. The money raised Sunday will be matched by a benefactor who will be revealed at a press conference Sunday at 3 p.m.
On Thursday in Margaretville, the East Branch Flood Commission will be sponsoring a picnic and ice cream social. Free hot dogs and ice cream, donated by Stewarts and scooped by Boy Scout Troop 80, will be available for any Delaware County resident. The event will start at 5 p.m. at the rear entrance to Margaretville Central Schools.
“There’s the picnic and the ice cream social for people to come together. We have the remembrance and commemoration. And then we have a very large municipal information piece,” Middletown Supervisor Marjorie Miller, said.
Delaware County’s plans for recovery from future floods, as well as how much money was raised over the past year and where that money was spent, will be discussed during the information session. Immediately following the presentations, residents can talk with the presenters.
“There has been a long-time rumored municipal pool plan,” Miller said. “We are moving forward with that thanks to a very generous benefactor who wants to build us a world-class recreation center.