FORT HUNTER - Heavy equipment shares the landscape with historic buildings as workers at the Schoharie Crossing State Historic Site work to clean up and repair the devastation left behind by a double dose of flooding caused by Tropical Storm Irene.
"The Schoharie Creek flooded over its banks, and the Mohawk River flooded over its banks and washed through most of the site," said Robert Kuhn, assistant regional director of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.
He called the damage "significant." Basements of buildings were flooded and in some, the water entered the first floor. Pedestrian bridges and interpretive signs were washed downstream, although many have been recovered. The asphalt parking lots and roads were washed away.
Fallen historic markers are gathered around one that remained rooted through flooding at the Schoharie Crossing State Historic Site.
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"The mule barn actually got lifted up and moved by the waters, and it was dropped back down in the road," Kuhn said. "We've had to demolish it; it became structurally unstable."
Kuhn said crews have been working six days a week to clean up and repair the site.
"First and foremost, we focused on safety issues and had that old mule barn taken down, and where there was serious erosion along trails, getting that fixed," he said.
The buildings are being cleaned out and plans are under way to rebuild the parking lot.
Since Schoharie Crossing is a state historic site, it is owned and managed by the state Parks Department, which Kuhn said is paying for repairs.
"We're keeping track of that and may be able to get federal reimbursement through FEMA in the future," he said.
He explained the Federal Emergency Management Agency provides reimbursement, so after the state spends the money to repair the site, it will apply for money.
"It's going to take many months to get the site restored to the way it was because there's so much damage," Kuhn said.
The site has been closed since Sept. 9.
Schoharie Crossing Education Coordinator Tricia Shaw will lead a discussion at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Fort Hunter Library about the history of flooding in the Fort Hunter area.
According to a news release, she will set the tone by talking about the floods of 1904, 1914, 1938 and 1977. Then, using eyewitness accounts of the 1955 and 1987 floods, she will compare them to the recent 2006 and 2011 floods.
An open discussion will follow, allowing individuals to share their own memories and thoughts about the flooding.
The Friends of Schoharie Crossing will meet after the lecture. The meeting and lecture are both open to the public, and refreshments will be served between the events. The Fort Hunter Library is located at 167 Fort Hunter Road in the town of Florida.
For more information about the lecture or Schoharie Crossing, call Shaw's cell phone at 878-6915.
Barbara Cook can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.