Flooding leaves wake of destruction in Long Lake, including this woman's home
There's been a big push this week to clean up some of the communities in the central Adirondacks that were hit by severe flooding on Monday night.
Many of the roads around the region that were damaged have been reopened, though Route 28 between Long Lake and Newcomb is still closed. Now people are cleaning up and dealing with damage left in the wake of the flood.
Val Galvagni has lived in Long Lake for more than twenty years. Her home is white with green shutters and a green roof. Galvagni was home Monday night when the heavy rain began.
“My son had come earlier and he saw the creek back here and he said, ‘Mom, that creek is going to overflow.’”
Galvagni thought he was just being overprotective. But the creek behind her house kept rising, so her neighbors up the hill, the Hosleys, came down and got to work.
“All the Hosley boys, their children, their nephews, they were here digging trenches and they really had things under control and then Shaw Pond must have burst and there was a deluge of water, like insane," said Galvagni.
Shaw Pond is less than a half mile up the road. It’s not exactly clear what led to that deluge of water. Some say a beaver dam broke and clogged the culverts, sending the pondwater down Route 28 and funneling it towards Galvagni’s home.
“What usually is a grass and a pretty yard was a lake," said Trisha Hosley, who waded through the water and into Galvagni’s home.
When Hosley arrived, the inside of the home hadn't flooded yet, but Hosley and others worried that if it did, it could destroy Galvagni’s belongings on the first floor.
“'What can we get up?'" Hosley said she asked Galvagni. "And so she said, ‘Pictures, I want to save my pictures.’ And [Galvagni] started pointing to bottom drawers of the desk and so we were ripping out drawers, putting them on dressers.”
Others helped put clothes and furniture up high and into the second floor. Once they left Galvagni’s home, the water had risen even more.
“Now it’s like waist deep from the front of her house to the garage," Hosley recalled. "We walked towards her garage, which is a little uphill and then back to my house. Even that was just so scary.”
The water was colder than Hosley thought it would be. After she got Galvagni set up in her house, Hosley headed into town. Her husband and brother-in-law own a few properties in Long Lake, including a big garage in the center of town.
“See the windows? That was standing water when the whole thing happened," Hosley said, pointing to a water line about four feet up on the garage doors.
There’s always been a stream behind the garage, but during the flood, it turned into a torrent of water and debris, creating a massive mess of trees and branches and rerouting the stream.
It’s a mess inside the garage, too. “You can see what mother nature did," said Pat Benton, shining a flashlight on the muddy floors and the jumble of stuff inside the garage. Benton rents this space as a storeroom for her antique shop up the road.
Benton said she was shocked but determined when she first saw the damage after Monday night's flooding. “I looked at it and I said, ‘Okay, girl you can do this,’ and I thought of everybody else suffering, too, and I thought, ‘Okay, we’re okay.’”
Nobody was hurt, some of the antiques are salvageable, and the community has turned out to help Benton clean and sort through the storeroom of antiques.
Climate change is making storms more severe and the weather less predictable, which Benton says should be a takeaway from this moment.
“I hope this has kind of been a wake-up call locally, for all of us, and when you see that devastation and what Mother Nature can do, moving huge pieces of concrete- there was a building over there, it’s gone. We need to pay attention.”
The flood ripped up roads and bridges in the central Adirondacks and destroyed a small dam in Long Lake. Repair crews have been working all week throughout the region, trying to bring a sense of normalcy back.
For some folks, floods like this can change lives. In just hours, Val Galvagni’s of more than two decades filled with three feet of water, changing it forever.
“This is my sweet little kitchen, I loved. I loved my kitchen," Galvagni said, as she walked past her fridge tipped at an angle. The floors are caked in mud.
“I had a sweet pantry and my dining room where we had all our family events.” Galvagni has two sons in town, so this home was a place for them to gather.
“And I have grandchildren that love to be here," said Galvagni. "They call me ‘Go-Go,' they always want to go to Go-Go’s house.”
Now, Galvagni's house is being sifted through and emptied out. She plans to move into one of her son’s rental units in Long Lake. There is a GoFundMe site that’s exceeded its $50,000 goal for Galvagni. Galvagni is so grateful for the support of her community.
“This community is, they’re just gold. When I decide what I’m going to do, there will be a troupe of people here and they’ll help me, they’re so kind.”
Galvagni loved this house so much that she’d say goodbye to it when she’d go out of town. She longed for this place when she was away from it.
“It wasn’t a tornado. My house is here, [it] probably won’t be saved, but that’s okay, it’s okay, but it’s a deep, deep loss no matter what.”
As Galvagni stood in the mud on her back porch, she reflected on what she's lost, but also what she still has. Despite potentially losing her house, Galvagni said the community of Long Lake is her true home.