Owners of flood-ruined home settle into new FEMA house

Temporary unit reunites couple

Monday marked 58 days since flooding from Tropical Storm Irene ruined Ed and Patty Manchester’s home in the village of Schoharie.

But this week will also mark a milestone in their recovery, as the family works to settle down in their new home trucked in Saturday by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The Manchesters signed off on a contract Monday morning and got keys to the two-bedroom temporary housing unit situated on their lot on Knower Avenue.

The development means the Manchesters will soon be sleeping under the same roof again.

Patty has been staying in Duanesburg with her sister, Karen Radford, who is also housing her son-in-law, daughter and two grandchildren who were uprooted by the fl ooding.

Ed’s been staying at the Best Western in Cobleskill with the family pets.

For nearly two months, they were able to see each other “just in the morning” when they’d go to what was left of their home to salvage what they could.

“It’s been pretty hectic. We just don’t have time to think. Everything’s just overwhelming,” Ed Manchester said.

The family lost their one-story, ranch-style house with a wraparound porch and hot tub in the back, as well as all of their possessions.

But they are grateful for what has happened since then — Ed Manchester said National Grid “did an awesome job” helping them get power restored, and the Best Western “took very good care of us.”

Patty Manchester and Radford were scrubbing “every inch” of the temporary home Monday, cleaning the windows and peeling off stickers.

Radford said it’s difficult to drive out of Schoharie to her home in Duanesburg and conduct life as usual, knowing so many people are in a dire situation.

“It just didn’t seem right mowing the lawn. When you’re in Albany, Schenectady … they think people are going to recover within the next two months. They’re not,” Radford said.

FEMA had roughly 25 temporary housing units shipped up to the former Guilford Mills facility in Cobleskill in early October.

These prefabricated homes are being made available to families that sustained more than $19,000 in damage from the disaster, and they will get to use them for 18 months while they rebuild.

Like many others in the village, the Manchesters didn’t have fl ood insurance.

They paid for it for six years and canceled it to save money after they got a letter in 2004 from FEMA telling them they weren’t in a fl ood hazard area.

Ed Manchester said that letter came in handy. It was stored in a safe and survived the fl ood, and they read it to FEMA representatives when they were told they couldn’t get a temporary housing unit because their property was in a fl ood zone.

A FEMA representative worked with the family and “she got things done,” Ed Manchester said.

The Manchesters’ new abode is one of two that have been installed in Schoharie County this month, according to FEMA spokesman Clifton Jones, who wouldn’t say where the other one is.

Jones said FEMA follows strict confidentiality guidelines when it comes to individuals getting a temporary home.

Its policy is to not reveal precisely where a home is installed to prevent disaster survivors from getting a deluge of media attention.

Ed Manchester, who his wife says is a “jack of all trades,” had sewer and water hookups ready to go once the remains of the old house were demolished.

The couple initially planned to move into the garage that sustained damage but didn’t get destroyed, so the two-bedroom unit is a step up from their original plans.

“This is better than having nothing, that’s for sure,” he said. He is an engineer for New York state, who has been using up all his vacation and sick time trying to get his life back together.

Though pleased about having a roof and warm place to stay with winter coming on, Ed Manchester said he’s uneasy about all his neighbors — dozens upon dozens of homes remain vacant and in various stages of rebuilding in this village.

“I feel bad … how are they going to do it?” he said.

Categories: Schenectady County

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