Images from the flood
Johnson City (WSYR-TV) -- At this time last year, remnants of Tropical Storm Lee dumped more than 10 inches of rain on the Southern Tier in just 24 hours.
Today, people in that area are still trying to recover from the devastating floods.
Bonnie Spence’s nightmare began on September 7, 2011.
"When my husband turned on the light I looked at him and he was pure white. He looked like he was going to collapse...that's when I made the decision to call 911,” Spence said.
That call saved her life. For nearly two hours, she and her husband were stuck in their attic, gasping for air as flood waters ripped through their home and all across the Southern Tier.
“It blew out the windows and it just started to fill up and it filled up the basement up to the first floor in less than 45 minutes,” Spence continued.
Fortunately they made it out, but their home of 30 years was destroyed. Now, one year later, she’s still trying to get back to normal. And she’s not the only one.
The community has rallied together offering financial, physical and most importantly, emotional support for those who endured the devastation.
Waterlines still evident today tell the story of a community uprooted by a powerful storm.
“Block after block of utter devastation down through here,” said Johnson City Christian Union Church Pastor Wyatt Buchanan. “It’s eerily quiet in this area. It’s like somebody dropped a bomb down here. All these homes are empty, boarded up, they’ve cut the power to them."
Buchanan has seen his share of storms and heavy rains sweep through Johnson City, but in his 23 years, there’s never been anything as crushing as what happened last year.
“The devastation was far flung, Binghamton, our village, Vestal, Cunkland, Twin Orchards, West Corners, it was a massive flood. It took in a huge geographical area,” Buchanan continued.
Buchanan’s church suffered nearly $30,000 worth of damage.
“As the waters came up, they eventually came up over the electrical sockets. We had over three feet of water in [the church],” he said.
Now, 12 months later, the church, along with the community, is trying to put the pieces back together. But for many of them, some things will never return to normal.