NY residents cope after flood

Ed Jones has just been through the worst flooding he's ever seen.

BY HEATHER MOYER | ENDWELL, N.Y. | July 31, 2006

Ed Jones moved to Endwell, N.Y., from Florida three years ago to get away from hurricanes. Now he's just been through the worst flooding he's ever seen.

"It's devastating," said Jones. "I don't want to move back in, but I don't have much choice with the way my insurance works."

Jones lives near the river in Endwell, N.Y., and while the water has gotten close to his home before - the flood last month came up into his home.

"The water never got that high before, and we've had three big floods since I moved here," he explained. "We didn't have much warning for this one, either."

The day of the flood was scary for Jones, who sent away his wife and neighbors as he watched the water rise. Jones said as he watched the water keep rising, he started thinking about getting himself out, too. "I moved some tools and belongings up higher, then I looked outside. The water was getting closer and I thought I had about 20 minutes before I was trapped. I looked back outside a short time later and the water was already up to the windshield on my truck."

Jones will repair his home and then sell it, saying that this is the last round of flooding he ever wants to experience.

And yet despite all the work he has to do on his home, Jones was at the Endwell Church of Christ on a recent evening meeting with other volunteers to go clean out another flooded community member's home.

When asked why, Jones just shrugged and smiled. Endwell Church of Christ Pastor Robert Russell smiled just as big next to him. "He's helping others even though his house is damaged - that's pretty amazing."

Russell has seen plenty of generosity pour into his church since the flooding. Stacks of supplies line the church's foyer, many donated by Churches of Christ Disaster Relief, but other supplies were also donated by people from near and far.

Volunteers show their generosity, too, by taking time to clean out homes affected by the flooding. Russell said his church has worked on ten homes so far, and more work orders are coming in. "We'll help anyone who calls, our help comes free and with no strings attached," said Russell.

One Endwell resident saw both her rented apartment and a home she owned in ruins. Russell and the Endwell volunteers helped her last week.

She lived in an apartment because friends needed a place to live. When the June flooding hit, both properties suffered. "I lost everything here and at my apartment," said the woman who declined to give her name.

But she remains optimistic, a smile on her face when describing the volunteers who already mucked out her basement and are now tearing down drywall. "They are a blessing," she said. "I have no family around here and they're helping me so much. I lost all my belongings, even my car."

For now, she is borrowing a car from a friend and learning how to deal with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Since her apartment was destroyed and the landlord told her that there are no plans to rebuild, she's learning to navigate the recovery process.

"It's so depressing at times. I lost everything and I was being bounced around from house to house. Now I'm in a tiny apartment for the time being and I'm having to pay rent there and my mortgage here. I'm at least happy people are being so nice and helping me."

Inside her home, Endwell Church of Christ volunteers are side-stepping a freakishly flood-warped floor to finish the tear-out process. Russell shies away from attention to his church's work, saying they want no credit for it. "We're doing it because a flood happened and it's needed. The need came to us. What kind of people would we be if we didn't help?"

One of Endwell's volunteers was giving back after receiving help years ago. "I've been through a house fire and done this before," said Walt Zink. "I know how much work it is. If you don't get any help, it's very difficult."

Russell said he's happy his church memberes has been so giving with their time and knows they will be involved for as long as needed. "We're working with others in the area who are responding as well," he added. "We're not trying to do this by ourselves."

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