In August 2011 Hurricane Irene caused record damage to the town of Prattsville. Edward Newell, a Prattville resident whom I grew up with in New City, lost everything when the Schorite Creek flooded the town during the rainstorm. The creek washed away trees and debris down. This refuse lodged itself under a bridge in Prattsville, making a beaver dam- like blockage.
The fire department blew the whistle, and went door-to-door, getting people out. Ed managed to get him and his wife Margarette, who is handicapped, out of the house before the powerful flow of water took them. The fire department took people to higher ground.
Ed and Maggie were cold and wet, but alive. Their house was in 10 feet of water, and their car washed down river like a toy. They were lucky; One of Ed’s neighbors, who didn’t get out in time, drowned.
Prattsville looked like a warzone. Route 23, the main road there, washed away in spots. I tried to go, but the Sheriff’s Department turned us away, as it was too dangerous. I was told it took 2 weeks or more to put the bridges and roads back together so you could go into the town.
After the horrific event, Ed and Maggie found themselves at the Huntersfield Christian Center, a retreat for bible study. These wonderful people fed them, gave them clothes, and an apartment high on the mountain to live in at no charge. They took care of two seniors for over three months and would not take any form of payment.
Eventually, FEMA came to town with volunteers from as far as Florida and Texas. A busload of Amish came from Pennsylvania also came to help. Along, with the residents everyone worked to get the town back together.
Ed called me and told me they were fine. I was surprised to hear it, but according to Ed and a few firemen I talked to, the Red Cross was there and did almost nothing. The people from the Huntersfield Christian Center received donations from stores like Walmart and Lowes. They were the heroes to the people of Prattsville.
Ed and Maggie are back in their house in Prattsville, and Ed goes up to the Huntsfield Center to visit and do little jobs as a “Mr. Fix-it.” He said they had a wonderful Christmas up there, and they keep inviting them to dinner on the mountain. I felt compelled to write this story to let you know how great people are to total strangers when the chips are down. It makes you proud to be an American, and restores faith in younger people.
Thank you to all who helped my good friends and so many others. A special thanks to the Huntersfield Christian Center, I can’t praise them enough, no sales pitch, just love and kindness. Thanks again and again. Out of a disaster came new friends and a renewed faith in mankind.
Ed and Maggie’s long-time friend,
Bob and Eleanor Tellefsen