Tales of the storm

Hurricane Irene, which hit the area as a nasty tropical storm Sunday, packed a devastating one-two punch in Saugerties, flooding low-lying areas along the Esopus and Plattekill creeks and hammering most everyone with sustained gale-force winds.

On Tuesday, more than 1,000 customers of Poughkeepsie-based Central Hudson were without power in the town and village. Some were told they’d have to wait until the end of the week.

But in comparison to nearby communities such as Shandaken, Windham, and towns in the southern portion of Ulster County, Saugerties did relatively well. Much of the initial damage was caused by heavy rains, according to the Ulster County Office of Emergency Management between 7 and 10 inches was dumped on the town and village. However, it wasn’t just the rain that hit here that caused homes and roads to be flooded, rain falling to the west of here was running out of the mountains into the Upper Esopus and adding to local high-water woes.


And once the rain ended Sunday afternoon, the high winds came knocking down trees, which knocked down power lines, blocked roads, or in one instance blew the roof off a home.

Bill Cochran, caretaker of Opus 40, and the Mercedes that saved the life of him and his dog (photo by Robert Ford)

Raising the roof

“Wow! A roof landed on me and my dog”

That was the reaction of Bill Cochran, caretaker and handyman at Opus 40 after he and his dog, Alberta, narrowly escaped death after a roof fell on the car that he and his pet were in.

Cochran recently borrowed a Mercedes sedan from a friend and when the storm hit, he looked at the trees surrounding the house and decided the car would be a safer place to ride out the storm.

“I didn’t like the look of the trees,” Cochran said of the intense straight-line winds that were causing even the largest of trees to bend and sway.

So he and Alberta hopped into the Mercedes and drove to the front of the house and parked. “When I looked out the car window, I saw the back of the roof of the house being lifted up and all of a sudden the entire roof was in the air and landing on the car,” Cochran explained.

If not for the structural integrity of the German-built car, which stayed intact after the impact, Cochran shook his head and said the he and Alberta would have died.

The owners of the home and of the adjoining Opus 40 sculpture, Tad and Pat Richards, were visiting their daughter in Glasco.