Imagine taking everything you own – everything – and throwing it in the garbage. This is what happened to scores of families in Schenectady County when the devastating storms of Irene and Lee flooded their homes in August, 2011. Hundreds of families had muddy, bacteria infested water in their basements, but many had this water damage on their first, and even second floors as well.
For the last 8 months, I have been working on a photographic exhibit concerning the impact of the flooding on Schenectady County families. This exhibit was born of the idea that as the flood waters subsided and life began to return to normal within many of our communities, help and interest began to subside as well. But for the families affected by the flooding of 2011, work had only begun.
I saw the diminishing interest and, seeking a way to document the human side of the devastation, I began photographing families in their damaged homes over the winter, continuing through May, 2012. Most of the families pictured here are still not in their homes…some are still even in the cleanup and demolition phase. All the families whose homes were severely damaged are weary and overwhelmed, and many suffer from PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder). At a time when needs are still so high, volunteers and funds are running low.
You can help by making a contribution to the Rebuilding Families Fund. 100% of your donation will go directly toward assisting families affected by the flooding. The Schenectady Foundation is currently matching donations, up to a total of $50,000. Volunteers with skills in home repair or construction are also needed. More information can be found online at their website: www.schenectadyfoundation.org.
Families are continuing to be photographed for this project. The exhibit is hanging this month in the boardroom of the Schenectady County Chamber of Commerce, where it will impact those business leaders most in a position to mobilize assistance. It will then hang for the month of July in the Habitat for Humanity ReStore on Broadway, as part of Art Night Schenectady. From there it will be at a number of different Schenectady County venues.
Each image is printed on 16×20 black and white metallic paper on standout mounts. Each print also has a small caption highlighting the impact of the flooding on each family. Keeping in mind that families lost all of their photographs in the flooding, these families will also receive a mini portrait session and wall print when they finally return home, to help celebrate a new beginning.
Funding for this exhibit has been provided in large part by Habitat for Humanity of Schenectady County. Some of the images are pictured below.