The full scope of the disaster in the Northeast is just now becoming clear, with some roads slowly reopening, electricity and internet being spottily restored and people venturing out to inspect the damage. It's a scene of utter destruction.
But to give you an idea of the spirit that reigns in these parts right along with the devastation, here is a film made by Jo Ostrander, a resident of the little town of Shokan in northern Ulster County, NY. This whole area is known as "greater Woodstock". I call it the Dried Lentil Belt. Much of the region is populated by hippies who never left after that epic weekend in 1969, along with a lot of artists and craftspeople. One of the towns pictured in the video is Phoenicia, recently named the "sixth coolest small town in America". The award winning indie film, "You Can Count on Me" and the cult horror classic "Wendigo" were filmed there.
This area is not wealthy, not by a long stretch. Average household income in Phoenicia is about $22,000. Nearby Margaretville has been figuratively underwater for years, with close to 20 percent of the population living below the poverty level. Now it's literally underwater.
I can now count among my list of accomplishments the fact that my neighborhood has been named an official federal disaster area by the president. But of course, the austerian politicians want this flood-ravaged region to tighten its belt and share the sacrifice. If any federal money is forthcoming for repairs of infrastructure and humanitarian aid, they want us to cut back in other ways. They also want to raise taxes on the victims of this catastrophe, having just now noticed that nearly half of poor people haven't been earning enough to pay taxes. So maybe they can wrest a compromise from the White House trading a few dollars of storm damage relief for a reduction in food stamp benefits or the earned income tax credit.
Maybe they should also reflect on the fact that the dams are bursting, and torrents of polluted water flow downhill to Wall Street. The drinking water of the oligarchs originates in this disaster zone.
Update: Marie Burns of RealityChex.com is at least temporarily back online from Disaster Zone Central. Glad to hear she is ok.