Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Irene and Lee Pack a One-Two Punch

Although we didn’t see many hurricanes in my time, Landis Valley has weathered each one that has come along, including the latest one: Irene. The huge storm that walloped the Eastern Coast of the United States and left thousands without power and inundated low-lying streets left the buildings of Landis Valley relatively unscathed. The trees, though, took a beating.

Kyle Hake and George Weston of the Maintenance Department reported that three large trees came down: a locust behind the one-room school house, a pine behind the hotel, and a smaller, decorative tree next to the log. One also came down on the neighboring Hands-on House’s property. “It took me and George two and a half full days to clean up all the debris,” Kyle said. “We were lucky. Last hurricane, the tree next to the Brick [House] fell on the roof. But that was addressed right away.”

The trunks and limbs, deemed useless for burning in the bake ovens around the museum, were tossed into a large pile in the pasture behind the schoolhouse.

According to Farm Manager Joe Schott, the animals and the plants carrying precious heirloom seeds weathered far better. “The corn was blown over but the seed stock is fine. It was mature enough to harvest anyway. The plants are fine,” he said.

So much for Irene.

But, while the ground was able to soak up the hurricane’s torrential rains, downpours today subjected Landis Valley to another form of damage from the leftovers of Tropical Storm Lee: flooding. The pictures below tell a story of Hay’s Creek, which runs along the side of the Collections Gallery. In my time, there was a hay field, formerly owned by the Landis’s who occupied the Isaac Landis House, in what is now the parking lot. In these pictures, one can see that the pipes running beneath both the parking lot and Landis Valley Road are not designed to carry the copious amounts of water draining from the surrounding countryside. The water backs up and overflows, pooling up to two feet in some places. Our fearless leader, Jim Lewars, and Maintenance Manager Will Morrow braved the flood in the Kubota in the pictures below. Floods like this don’t happen often, but when they do it is quite spectacular.