Better Angels, the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation and I traveled to Atlanta last week for Fire-Rescue Int’l (FRI) presented by the IAFC (Int’l Assn of Fire Chiefs). Better Angels was in row 3200 of an e-n-o-r-m-o-u-s convention hall. I stood in the turret (is that what I should call it?) of a ladder truck next to us and took this shot. The woman in the picture is pointing to the painting of Father Mychal Judge. His is the most visited painting on the wall.
Because we were on the convention floor in Atlanta, we were not accessible to the general public, which was a disappointment. Otherwise, Better Angels and I met people from across the country and around the world at FRI. I spoke with Brazilian firefighters who wished they had a support organization in Brazil that did what the NFFF did for firefighters and their families here in the USA. I met firefighters from Arizona and Hawaii and BetterAngels911 got a new Facebook fan from Washington State. I met military firefighters and forest service firefighters. I met first responders from Louisiana and the Carolinas and of course, Georgia.
I was told again and again about memorials they are building or have built back home, about ceremonies they have had and are planning for 9/11. I welcome pictures of these memorials and ceremonies to post on this site.
At the end of Atlanta, Irene took precedence for anyone going north. Many NFFF staff including Chief Siarnicki had to head home early to batten down the hatches. Billy and Cathy drove the exhibit back north in the wake of the storm and I hope they fared well. I headed to the airport to catch the last flight to Albany for the next three days.
The first hour in the air was clear. The next hour hid the ground below but not the Big Dipper above, with an occasional mild bump. By the time we landed in Albany we were told the rain had just started a short time before. It was still fairly light. I was in my car heading south on the NYS Thruway by 11:30pm for a 70 mile drive. Thankfully it was rain without much wind but it was clear that I was driving into the storm. It didn’t get bad until about 40 miles in. It got really heavy just before I had to turn off to head west into the mountains for the last 15 miles, and once I turned it eased a bit. By 1am I was safely and gratefully home.
We lost power about 5:00 in the morning. At 9am I ventured out in the rain to the Cub Market for my Sunday paper and a cup of generator-brewed coffee. The Sawkill River across the road was roaring at the top of its steep banks with dirty salmon-colored water. I made a wish our little bridge there would survive and headed back to shelter. By the early afternoon, it had pretty much stopped raining, and we had a lull before the heavy winds late in the day. They came with enough daylight to show me how deeply they were bowing the trees. I didn’t head to sleep until I knew the wind direction because my cottage is backed by a row of trees. The rain had come from the east, but the winds came from the north-northwest. Morning light revealed two trees in that row had fallen away from me that night, sheared off at their base.
Monday when I finally ventured out to take the contents of my freezer to a friend with power, I drove the road I had driven ahead of the storm 36 hours before. It was impassable for all the downed trees. I hear there’s a sinkhole ahead that trapped a fire truck, but I haven’t seen it.
It’s Wednesday afternoon as I write and we are Day Four without power here. Woodstock came on sometime in the last 12 hours so hopefully we won’t be too far behind. All in all, we’re not too bad off. There are flooded homes and towns and farmers’ fields all through this area and north. Roads are washed out, bridges gone. Trees still rest against power lines, and power lines still drag on the ground. Bit by bit we are cleaning up.
The weather since the storm has been beautiful.