Pandemic’s pause prompts further renovations for Florida home ravaged by 2011 flooding

Renovations inside Shannon Savage’s home in the town of Florida.
PHOTOGRAPHER:
Renovations inside Shannon Savage’s home in the town of Florida.

Categories: Fall Home

TOWN OF FLORIDA — Shannon Savage used her quarantine time during the pandemic to renovate the ceilings and kitchen in her home on the Schoharie Creek in the town of Florida.

It was really the final piece of work that began nine years ago when the home on Youngs Corners Road was significantly damaged by floodwaters during Tropical Storm Irene.

“My mom was awoken by the clanging outside her bedroom window [propane tanks] and was frantically calling my name,” Savage said about the night of Aug. 28, 2011.

“After stepping out to the side porch, I noticed there was water viciously running underneath it. Even though the sheriff had stopped by earlier that day and stated we didn’t need to evacuate, as he was sure the water wouldn’t reach the house, it had — and we quickly left,” she said.

Savage said water from the overflowing creek destroyed almost everything under the house including the furnace, hot water tank, water system and multiple antiques. It also knocked down several support pylons, and left between 1 and 2 inches of water in the house.

Savage and her late mother were displaced from 2011 until the summer of 2015, when “we finally got the place back to somewhat livable.”

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She received some federal FEMA money and New York State Rising funds to help with costs.

Repairs started from the bottom up. “The last project was to replace all Sheetrock cathedral ceilings with wood and renovate the kitchen,” she said.

Savage said she usually has visitors on a regular basis from out of state: Friends and relatives from California, Arizona and Georgia. Savage, who grew up in Columbia County, is retired after working in the computer and accounting fields, including 25 years for the state in Albany.

When COVID-19 struck, there was no more company. “I said I might as well do the kitchen. I had to rip it apart,” she said.

She moved the stove out of the kitchen around the corner to a foyer leading to the back porch. She was able to cook on the stove, but also cooked on a fire pit near the house in good weather. Savage had some help with the work. Her friend Bob Morey had pulled down a black walnut tree from property Savage owned near another smaller creek. He took the wood to an Amish sawmill, where it was cut into boards and dried.

The black walnut boards were installed this spring on the wall of the home leading to the second floor and against the staircase wall by Amish carpenters David and Isaac Frye from the town of Glen.

The second job was installing the tongue-and-groove ceiling, replacing the cracked Sheetrock.

Aric Fredericks of Fultonville, another self-employed carpenter Savage knows, helped with the pine ceilings. Fredericks is the brother of Sawyer Fredericks, the folk singer and songwriter, and winner of Season 8 of NBC’s “The Voice”.

“We did the pine ceiling, the tongue-and-groove,” Fredericks said. “The Amish [brothers] did the ceiling in the kitchen,” he said.

Fredericks said he has done “little odd jobs here and there” over the years for Savage. Savage praised the work done by the Amish brothers, who  arrive to a job site in horse and buggy.

“They do beautiful work. They are perfectionists,” she said.

Savage painted the small wall on the stairway and the railing with boiled linseed oil. She said that enhances the color of the wood.

“To me it’s rewarding. I have a piece of a beautiful tree on the wall,” she said.

The work took nearly three months, from mid-March until the end of May, and cost roughly $3,500, she said.

“We should hold a flood-completion celebration now, but I can’t narrow it down to 10 people at this point,” she said.

Savage said her friend Suzanne Piering of Schenectady shares the house with her. Both Savage and Suzanne lost their mothers in 2013. They also ran a food service establishment together in Schenectady in the early 2000s.

In 2005, one of their restaurant customers encouraged them to look at an old camp property near Amsterdam. They fell in love with the property on Youngs Corners Road and moved in with their elderly mothers in 2006.

“There’s nothing better than the aroma of a campfire, nothing more eye appealing than undisturbed nature and nothing more relaxing than the sound of running water [the Schoharie Creek],” Savage wrote in an email.

“And we have been blessed with the whole experience here on this small piece of the earth. We have both said this feels like sacred ground and are truly grateful that He has allowed us to be keepers of it during our lifetime,” she wrote.

The house includes two bedrooms, a den and a large wraparound porch that has been enclosed with Marvin windows overlooking the creek.

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