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Waiting to come home

Flood recovery efforts a tedious and lengthy undertaking for some

David McKeon on Tuesday, Oct. 2, sits in front of his home on Elm Street in Pattersonville. McKeon is still working on repairing his home after floods damaged it more than year ago.

David McKeon on Tuesday, Oct. 2, sits in front of his home on Elm Street in Pattersonville. McKeon is still working on repairing his home after floods damaged it more than year ago. Photo by John Purcell.

— According to Nathan Mandsager, the coordinator of the Flood Recovery Coalition for Schenectady County, there are still eight families working to get back in to their Rotterdam homes damaged by the 2011 flooding. The road to recovery has been far longer and more difficult than any could have imagined, though. After the murky, contaminated water receded, money became a main issue for many residents.

McKeon did have insurance, so FEMA didn’t provide him any assistance, and it took around 10 months before he received a check. He said it was around half of what he thought he’d get.

Pedone didn’t have flood insurance and did receive some help from FEMA, but it didn’t go far. Many people and businesses donated items needed to help repair homes, but by the time she had started renovation, most of the freebies were gone.

“I am just happy that I still have a house to rebuild,” she said.

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Some flooded homes being repaired around Rotterdam Junction still need more than just a coat of paint to finish renovations.

McKeon said volunteers helped motivate him and raise his spirits as cleanup and renovations progressed at his home.

“If it weren’t for hundreds, literally hundreds of volunteers … they have come and stayed and enabled us for where we are now,” McKeon said. “You don’t get over something like this, you get through it.”

As he made initial repairs to his home he collapsed three times and was taken to the hospital, which slowed his return home. His two sons and daughter helped him and his wife.

The despair in Rotterdam Junction did not recede with the floodwaters, McKeon said, because now people carry anger about how the situation unfolded.

“There is a tremendous anger, because a large portion of what happened here could have been prevented had there been proper administration or proper planning,” he said. “There is some common sense of things that could be done that have to be done to eliminate this fear that so many people have that this could happen again.”

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