Kingstonians tell their storm stories

Kingston’s citizens are still suffering the aftermath of the ravishing floods which brought the city to its knees. The storm called Irene, once a hurricane but a tropical storm by the time it hit here, brought with her turbulent, muddy waters to homes and businesses, creeks and flats.

With many residents not seeing the light of Central Hudson until Friday or Saturday, the past seven days for most ranged from annoyingly inconveniencing to severely compromised. Some cited ruinous floods as the root cause of their problems, while others claim their sanity was nearly lost to a week-long power outage.

The 104 units of Alexander Yosman Tower on Broadway lost their power the Saturday morning (Aug. 27) of the hurricane, explained resident Debbie Hannigan, much to the panic and fear of many elderly residents who, like Hannigan, are disabled. Hannigan reported eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the week and lamented losing over $80 of food in her fridge. “One woman’s daughter called ahead and said that she was coming with homemade brownies still warm from the oven,” said Hannigan. “And we were all like, ‘Yes! Warm food!’”


Hannigan explained that residents mostly subsisted on boxed cereals and quarts of milk bought daily since there was no way of keeping it chilled. Hannigan stored bowls and pots filled with bagged ice to chill her milk and cheese in her otherwise-useless refrigerator. Worse was the peril posed to Hannigan when she had to transition back to walking from her motorized wheelchair, which she couldn’t charge.  “I have spinal stenosis too,” she added. “I am disabled and I was afraid of falling. I have a power chair but I couldn’t keep it charged. I almost fell in my kitchen and water got my floor and I didn’t know it … I took a shower in the dark. The water seemed to be on the warm side, as long as you didn’t use it a lot” she explained. “The majority of the time we were in bed by dark.”

Dennis and Eileen Weiss sit atop their life's possessions destroyed in the flood.

Hannigan reported the tower’s generator had one elevator working and when the lights came back on Friday afternoon, the building whooped with joy. Saturday night was another blackout, she added, bringing about an anxiety attack for herself and her cat after suffering through the last darkness, and cursing the dark for that she had just bought food. Fortunately, by morning the power was once again restored, and has remained so.

Speaking of refrigerator woes, Alison and Matt Rykowski of Rykowski Livestock Farm in Rosendale thanked God that they were spared from the flood, but faced losing thousands of pounds of meat — their livelihood. “My brother is a welder and we used his welder to power the house and freezers full of meat,” she explained. “We had 12 freezers full and a freezer truck box.” They went from Sunday through Saturday without electric, and used a generator to be able to pump water to feed their animals. “[Downed trees] blocked our driveway, and we had to cut the tree to get out of the driveway. We couldn’t get to the barn. We had to find a way to the Binnewater barn because the roads were so bad. Binnewater Road was really bad … highest we have ever seen the Rondout. It was maybe two feet to the bridge bearings.”