August 12, 2009 - 9:13 AM
It's curious the things that stayed.
After a savage flood inundated the Village of Gowanda this week, with water rising up to nine feet above the flood stage, perhaps the most incredible things are those that weren't swept away.
Before the flood, Mike and Michelene Washy laid a curb of bricks in front of their Chestnut Street house. They used no mortar; it seemed unnecessary.
Early Monday morning, the couple woke to see a surging river of garbage and debris rushing down the street. Just blocks away on Stafford Road, the violent waters carved a gorge more than 100 feet long out of the road.
In front of the Washy residence, not a brick was moved.
Bryon Ivett knows what horrors a flood can cause. His friend, 80-year-old Ted Stitzel,
drowned when the overflowing Thatcher Brook swept him underwater on Monday. Ivett, a postal carrier, maintained the unwavering reputation of the U.S. Postal Service when he delivered mail during the state of emergency Monday.
As Ivett traversed devastated Route 62, he saw house after house thrashed by the flood.
Even if much of the house wasn't standing, the mailboxes stood, still servants to their overwhelmed owners.
William Flagg said that when the flood waters subdued, he was left with nearly nothing. His home is destroyed, his 20-foot trailer sailed to an unknown location and his car is sitting on 5 feet of debris.
But his two cats, who never made it back to the house during the storm, both returned to him afterward, swaggering to his feet as if nothing happened.
Farther down the road from Flagg, Charles Toy said the flood carried away his childrens' sandbox. He found it in a yard blocks from his home. He found his backyard tomato patch exactly as he left it, vegetables still intact.
Al Lindquit wasn't as lucky with his home. He never stood a chance as the flooded brook filled the first floor with more than a foot of water. On Tuesday, he hauled what little he could salvage from the house into a moving van and took his family to stay with relatives near Perrysburg. This was his third flood, each one ravaging the home that used to belong to his grandfather.
"We may not be coming back," he said.
But the flood can't claim victory over him. Although he may have to find a different house, he, also, is staying.
"This is home," he said.
-- Collin Binkley
(Photo by Derek Gee/Buffalo News: Erika Calhoun, 15, shovels mud left behind from Sunday's flood off of the sidewalk in front of Positively Main Street in Gowanda on Tuesday.)