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October 31, 2012

Schoharie pub owner breathes sigh of relief

SCHOHARIE — In a village where many houses and buildings still sit empty 14 months after hurricane-driven flooding engulfed them, restaurant owner Dave McSweeney had his generator and pump ready to deal with any similar consequences from Hurricane Sandy.

As it turned out — fortunately for him and his worried neighbors — what was being billed as the storm of the century left the Schoharie Valley with only a moderate soaking, and no major flooding was reported.

“We dodged a bullet, didn’t we?” said McSweeney as he stood inside his two-business complex in an old hotel — Timothy Murphy’s Pub and the Parrott House Restaurant — on Main Street in the village whose economic vitality remains hobbled by the damage caused by Hurricane Irene in 2011.

He said he and his neighbors were saddened by the devastation caused to the New York City metropolitan region by Hurricane Sandy, while counting their blessings that they did not have to repeat the ordeal they experienced last year. Last year, he said, it took him three days to empty his basement of water.

“This wouldn’t be a village if we had gotten hit again,” said McSweeney, 49, a native of Ireland who has not shed his brogue. “If what hit New York City hit here, people would be wiped out, and they’d be gone.”

In preparation for serious flooding, he said, some residents moved many of their most valuable furnishings out of their homes and trucked them to higher ground for safekeeping.

Before Hurricane Irene, McSweeney said, he had 22 employees working at his business. Now he has 12.

“We’re doing about 35 percent of the business we used to do,” he said.

He estimated that more than half of village residents never returned after losing their homes in the floods. Those that remain, he said, are using what little money they have to rebuild their homes.

“Which is understandable,” McSweeney said.

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