The following is a letter Ron Urban sent out (State TU Chair) after he rode down to see the damage done by the floods in the Catskills. Since a lot of you have been to the Fish-Ins down there I thought you would be interested. I copied it out of the newsletter with the editors permission... Bob
Where do I begin? After much correspondence from those that had the capability to write or call, I heard many stories and saw some photos. Some of the stories where fortunately not correct and a photo or two were in the wrong locations. Particularly the Sunoco station that was in Roscoe. Not so. Observed one that looks like the one below 17 west above route 30 going to Downsville. So, I planned Thursday to leave work in Middletown and head west toward Roscoe. In fact, I did. I will say that my heart was saddened at sights and people I knew that are suffering loss of the daily things we take for granted. Showers, lights, hot water, phone service, cooking, emails (modern technology) and it goes on. Tonight I will try to explain what I saw and experienced.
As I arrived on 17 west at the exit 96 for Livingston manor, I could begin seeing things below. I came down into Livingston Manor and there were news Medias from NYC channels 2, 4 & 7 (ABC, CBS and NBC). I proceeded down the main street to the traffic light. Up ahead I could see much work from road crews so I went to look. There by and past the LM Fire Dept. was a washed out road and all the shoulders along this road were washed out where once cars parked. These were anywhere from 3 to 6 feet deep and 3 to 5 foot wide back down to the bridge just above the light. I turned around and went back to look at store owners and people sweeping out drying floors and items of their life and businesses. Hard to explain without seeing and experiencing it. Pulled over and parked in front of Fir Brook Flies and looked in Rich's store front. With a gasp and an "Oh my God!" I saw his devastation through the windows and imagined what his neighbors and other businesses must have too encountered. Water was 4 feet deep inside at the height of the floods. Today (Friday) Rich informs me his machines used to create fly reels where not covered by insurance and the motors for them probably all will be lost. Displays and items in the store are lost.
I pulled up to the area of the broadcasters and was fortunate to get interviewed but I do not believe it was televised. My basic comments were that, we are not all about the streams and rivers, First and foremost is not the streams and fish. Our concerns are with our friends, families, business associates and the people in general. The fishing and recreation will come back but we need to get the people that sponsor our sport and recreations back operating again. And not just them but their friends and neighbors.
I left the Livingston Manor area crossing the area where the 16 year old girl lost her life and was found 1/2 mile down stream. I saw on old route 17 what looked like new streams running out of the mountains and making new tributaries to the Willow. Rocks and debris were washed down the mountain sides and deposited all along the road and I should say now, many roads and areas I traveled. As I rode down old 17 toward the Catskill Fly Fishing Museum, I could see the Willow flowing still very high but back within its banks. From the floods of last year and the devastation, I witnessed devastation on devastation in and around the stream. The access area and DEC parking area just before the museum is a mass of timber and trees unbelievable from two weeks ago when I last walked the river and its banks. Turning into the museum cautiously, I proceeded across the bridge and on the other side observed the washed out rock and drive going up to the museum. Turning back and going out I saw the fields to my left covered in water. As I turned onto 17 again toward Roscoe, I observed a refrigerator in a tree, vacuum cleaners on the banks and numerous items in trees including clothes. I wondered if any where from the girl who lost her life or a family member. As one person wrote me today of his own perils, it looked like a Lunar Landscape. Uncharted territory because much was not recognizable from past trips. Water lines up in trees were a good way of telling how high the water rose and where it rose to. Across roads and into properties, homes and businesses. I could also see what appears tome as the pond at the museum site having its berm blown out and the pond and stream for the moment all one.
Traveling further into Roscoe I saw much of the red brown waters flowing at rates I never experienced or dreamt of in the Willow and eventually similarly in the Beaverkill when I arrived there. Coming into Roscoe still on old 17, I could see the line where waters rose to near the Roscoe Diner. Many businesses were open doors and people cleaning, drying and just talking about the destruction they absorbed. I stopped and talked to a couple in front of the Beaverkill Orvis Store. One owned the restaurant next door on the corner. I saw tears well up in man?s eyes. No one is free of the personal pain and loss. Man or woman.
I drove down Stewart Street in front of Catskill Flies toward the Mobil Station and could see cleaners in the bank, people replanting the gardens in town and starting the rejuvenation process. That is the spirit that will bring them back and all that supported them.
I had to go visit a dear friend and icon to the fly fishing history in Roscoe. Mary Dette, the daughter of Walt and Winne Dette. As I drove to her home, I could see washed out areas of the street and especially here also the shoulders and pull off areas of the street, washed out and dangerous to any vehicle if you went off the main asphalt of the road. I was greeted at the door by a smiling and always happy Mary. We went in and sat in her dining room for a while. I asked her how she fared and she said her garage was okay, but the basement was flooded again as last April 2005. Tuesday night at 5:30 PM the squads came and told her she had to evacuate. She and her Grandson, Joe, went to the high school for the night. I believe Joe may have stayed at the Baxter House. She relayed to me the things she knew. The local Library was again hit badly if not worse then last year as reported by Judy Darbee Smith. Businesses had their basements flooded out. In fact a couple stores in town including the Catskill Wine and Liquor Store next to the The Little Store have to have their basement walls checked because they seem to be giving away. They are awaiting a structural engineer to examine them for safety of not collapsing. Mary says the Roscoe Post Office may be out of business until the weekend or first of next week. There was no phone service until tonight in many places and I did finally talk to Manny Zanger and his wife sometime ago. Mary told me of the Junction Pool area. They did walk down there Wed. morning to look at it and I tell you everything she told is true. I thanked her for her time and that they were all okay.
I left and proceeded to the blinking light turning to the Junction Pool. What I saw was the worse anyone could expect. The road is totally gone. Down to concrete roads that Mary walked as young girl. The asphalt was literally ripped up, floated away and planted in other locations. This road is unusable for some time. I will attach photos of the ball fields and areas by the school full of waters and as they receded today. There were actually about 3 or 4 more feet of water at the height not in the flooded photos. The Roscoe Motel realing from two previous floods was hit again severely. Their front yard destroyed and the pool filled again with debris just after a couple weeks ago getting it ready for the season. Can?t even imagine the rooms conditions again. This area was extremely hard hit. For now I had enough of the devastation that overtook Roscoe, Livingston Manor and in between. I now got on 17 West and headed to Deposit.
One in particular was at the Riverside Cafe. The restaurant is still standing but they had, at the crest, about 5' of water in the building. A few of the cabins had their foundations about washed away and appeared to be twisted on the remaining piers. The owners of the Butternut Grove Campground had moved the campground trailers up onto the shoulder of Old 17, but the flood actually floated 4 of them onto the lawn of a neighbor. Actually, Hancock appears to have received only minor flooding in the business district. The Grand Union and MacDonald?s were both open for business Thursday night. Most of the severe damage was at the East and West ends of the village. Cadosia Creek really did a job where it connects with the East Branch near the exit off 17 and at the West end Sands Creek did the same amount of damage near the corner of the Sunoco Station. I saw no law enforcement on 17 both ways last night.
Driving down River Road and into the West Branch Angler at the restaurant entrance. The devastation is hard to put into words. As earlier told, only 5 of the cabins actually washed down the river. It appears however that most of the others have shifted on their foundations, or what is left of the foundations. Most of them were still partially underwater this afternoon. The pavilion has collapsed. What is most striking though is the condition of the grounds around and near the cabins. It's apparent much of it has washed away. There is an attached photo of the WBA that was actually taken on Rt. 17 across from the WBA which I've attached. The WBA's $600/night cabins are still intact, but photos show the water 5'-6' up the sides of the structures. After leaving the WBA heading back across the Hale Eddy Bridge (water now down about 4' below the bridge ? but at the crest the water was just lapping over the bridge), there were signs in the West Bound lanes of Rt. 17 stating "Road Closed Ahead". Time to turn and go back to Roscoe. Long day and longer night."