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Old Fort Johnson and Irene: An Update

In response to my recent posts (Parts 1, and 2) on Irene and New York State History which included excerpts from an email from Old Fort Johnson asking for help, I received the following update from Museum Director Alessa Wylie:

Dear Peter,

Thanks for including Old Fort Johnson in your posting. I just wanted to clarify a few things. First off I want to let you know that no historical artifacts were lost at Old Fort Johnson. The Old Fort and our 18th century privy were badly damaged in the flooding but we implemented our disaster plan and all historical artifacts on the first floor of the Old Fort were safely moved. The same is true in our Visitor’s Center. The books in our research library were moved to safety and not damaged by the flooding. The items that we were documenting were things like display cases, kitchen cabinets, stove, refrigerators, tables, chairs,etc that were water damaged and couldn’t be repaired. Here’s a quick recap of the damage at our site:

Old Fort Johnson – the 1749 limestone building was flooded on August 29th. The water reached the mantels on the first floor of the building. The waters receded and clean up had begun when a second flood on September 8 filled the basement of the building. Work has resumed on drying out, cleaning up and sanitizing the building. The 18th century paneling and flooring are being dried out and look to be in good shape. We still need to replace the furnace and get the electrical working but we’re hopeful that the integrity of the building is being preserved.

Privy – our 18th century privy was lifted off its base and tipped on its side. It remains on its side until the ground firms up enough for heavy equipment to come in and move it. We will better know the extent of the damage once it is upright again.

Visitor’s Center – this building had a little over two feet of water on its first floor. The bottom 40 inches of plaster and lathe has been removed and drying out of the building has begun. Walls will need to be rebuilt and the kitchen, furnace, hot water heater all will need to be replaced. Scott Haefner, our Site Manager, has had to find temporary housing until the work is completed.

Garage – this storage building also flooded with almost three feet of water. Lawn equipment, tools, tables and chairs, and a refrigerator are just a few of the things that were ruined in the water.

Needless to say we have a long road ahead of us but we are hopeful. We have had a steady stream of volunteers who have rolled up their sleeves and worked very hard at all sorts of tasks. The most amazing by far was the group of volunteers who removed 162 five gallon buckets of mud from the basement of the Old Fort. Volunteers have made all the difference and we are grateful and appreciative of all who have helped either in person or by sending in a monetary donation. You can check out all the progress on our Facebook page.

We will be back in 2012, a little water logged perhaps, but we will be here.

Photo courtesy Old Fort Johnson.