[elmira-ny.com] - Keeping memories alive...photo courtesy of Tom Drum...

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  - Lisa Kerbein Dever -

In '72 I was just 13 years old and had just completed 7th grade at Broadway Jr. High. The night before the river overflowed it's banks, my parents and some friends were playing cards at our house. My mother had taken two of them home near Woodlawn Cemetary and when she came home, she was the last car allowed over the bridge before police baracaded it to traffic.

We lived near Broadway School, so we weren't flooded by the river, however, living at the base of the hill, the ground was so saturated that the rain had no where to go and came up through a crack in our basement. We ended up with four feet of water down there, which meant we had to turn our electricity off (the fuse box was down there).

We had a family room and laundry room down there, as well as my dad's office. Our furnace, washer, dryer, freezer, television, furniture & everything in my dad's office were ruined. In spite of those small problems, we took in a family of five that we knew. They lived on Sylvester Place.

I have many, many memories of that period in time, but wanted to share a few. I remember our family volunteering at Broadway School in the kitchen (which was set up as a shelter) and I vividly remember buttering big rectangular pans full of slices of toast with a paintbrush.

I also remember the little boy, David, that stayed with us. With no electricity and no windows in our bathroom, we kept a candle burning in there so you could see.

On more than one occasion, little David, about 2 years old, was caught in the bathroom singing "happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me" and blowing the candle out.

The last memory I will share is that when the water receded and our friends could go home and start cleaning up, I was in charge of hosing off boxes and boxes of 33 rpm record albums...rinsing them one at a time then laying them on dry newspapers in the lawn and on the sidewalk. Even today I feel so happy that I was able to help people in some small way, and so fortunate that we lived where we did. The smell of the mud from the flood is something I will never forget.