Some good news out of flood ravaged Schoharie County. A pumpkin patch that had been under 12 feet of water because of Irene related flooding is now back open. Just in time for Halloween. Our Brandon Walker has more on the farm's road to recovery.
ESPERANCE, N.Y. -- They may be a bit muddy, but getting them here wasn't easy.
"It was pretty sad," said Paul VanDerwerken, owner, Pick-a-Pumpkin pumpkin patch.
Paul VanDerwerken's family has run Pick-a-Pumpkin pumpkin patch in Esperance for 26 years, on a farm they've owned for over 55 years.
"River kept coming up and up and up and we saw the pumpkins start floating away. And then..." VanDerwerken said.
Pictures offer merely a sneak peek of the VanDerwerken's worst nightmare. Irene swallowed a three story barn with over 12 feet of water. After the water subsided, thick mud carpeted everything. Equipment was ruined.
"We were instructed by farm bureau not to sell any produce from the farm because all of it had been under water," said VanDerwerken.
So, these pumpkins were purchased from a distributor. But doing so was more than just cleaning up to clean up- it had a lot to do with keeping a promise.
"He's always wanted to have this pumpkin patch," he said.
He being Paul's dad, Jim. Jim passed away about a week after the flood. He had a brain tumor, diagnosed only this past July.
"I think he would be happy we got back so quickly," VanDerwerken said.
Simply reopening is a feat within itself, but this story is a tale of a community's willingness to persevere.
"It's been wonderful to see the community come together and try to bring things back to normal," VanDerwerken said.
In fact, VanDerwerken said it took over 600 hours of cleaning to get everything ready for opening day, most of that time pitched in by volunteers who just wanted to pick pumpkins again.
"With everything that happened to them, I'm happy they got the chance to open up this year," Mary Deere, a Troy resident, said.
"Nice to put an end to everything that's been going on around here recently," David Harrington, an Esperance resident, said.
Finding closure in Pumpkins after what's been one trying month, and doing what dad would do.
"Making a place for kids to have a good time," VanDerwerken said.