Friday, September 7, 2012


I met Larry LePage this week. He likes to sit on his porch, hoping for company. He's lonely. You see, he has very few neighbors anymore. They all had to abandon their homes.

Larry LePage lives in Prattsville, NY.

Prattsville is a tiny little burg in the Catskills just south of the Schoharie Reservoir. Before most of the town was wiped out, there were only about three hundred people there. There are fewer than that now. Last August, when Hurricane Irene howled up the Eastern seaboard, she bumped into the Catskills and dropped an unbelievable amount of water into the reservoirs. Experts say the water that rushed down the Schoharie and Esopus Creeks was more than the torrents that howl over Niagara Falls. The Schoharie Creek went 15 feet over its banks and wiped out the town.

What's left now are a lot of boarded up buildings. A few businesses have reopened. But many homes are still abandoned.

There's an effort underway to build a new, safer Prattsville, one that's above the flood plain. But it's years away. Larry's been in Prattsville since the sixties, since leaving his native Canada. He doesn't want to leave. His family had to talk hard just to convince him to leave temporarily after his home filled with water.

Larry LePage sits on his porch every day, hoping someone will stop by and talk to him. Many of the people who are still in Prattsville do. Three houses down from Larry's house is another vacant house, tilting on its foundation, its porch gone.  The sign posted near it, surrounded by stones, has one word on it:  Hope.

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