Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Weathering Storms. Silver Linings.

The Cheese Barrel in Margaretville
Water, water everywhere.  The lushness of the mountains, the verdant green of the hayfields - all fed by the bountiful water and land that filters it down to the rivers, streams and reservoirs.  The towns here have weathered floods big and small. Folks talk about the flood in '96.  The 2006 flood. Most scars are gone. Rivers are now lined with huge rip-rap boulders to protect their banks.  Farm fields have new crops planted.  Riparian buffers planted with bushes and grasses to hold the soil.

Floods make people come together and help each other out with a contagious sense of community and pride.  It's what makes our small Catskills towns so welcoming and tactile. All that strength and warmth at the same time. So Irene pummeled almost every town in the county, in some manner this past weekend.  But she really threw her might at the villages of Margaretville, Arkville, and Fleischmanns.  And while we all know in our bones that these towns will be rebuilt, there is the sense that the storm did have a silver lining.

The towns along the East Branch of the Delaware River are working together to come up with a recreation plan that accesses the river and uses it to promote tourism and recreational opportunities.  Looking at these rivers towns, not for their ability to move timber and farm products downstream, but to move kayakers and to encourage fishing, are strong forces that can shape how we rebuild these communities.

Welcoming travelers has been something Delaware County has done with pride since the railroad starting bringing city folk up to escape the heat of the concrete jungle.  It is something we will do this weekend for Labor Day travelers, and the next weekend, and for fall foliage and Columbus weekend and for generations to come.  We look forward to your supporting our communities as you travel here and promise we'll try our hardest to put the polish back on our main streets.  We'll see you in the mountains!!