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Tropical Storm Lee's affects linger in Owego

Owego was among the towns hardest hit by flooding in September, 2011. In resident Pat Williams' home, the water peaked at more than two feet in the first floor.

Six months later, Williams has a remodeled ground floor, but life for her may never feel 'normal' again.

"The pretty pictures"

Shortly after the flood, FEMA and the Mental Health Association of the Southern Tier established a crisis counseling organization called Project Renew. Counselors go door-to-door talking to flood victims about the recovery.

One of Project Renew's counselors, Alex Nichols, says she found many people who felt like the story of Owego's steady recovery didn't reflect their struggles.

"They've seen articles in the newspaper and things like that, saying Owego is back and showing pictures of the businesses that were reopening - and the pretty pictures. They're looking at this and going, 'Really? I didn't know that,' " says Nichols.

Flooding from Tropical Storm Lee caused more than a billion dollars of damage in the Southern Tier, most of it in Tioga and Broome Counties. The Tioga County town of Owego had more than 75 percent of its buildings damaged by the flood.

Abby Pelot, another counselor from Project Renew, says the damage to people's homes causes lingering wounds that aren't always easy to see or measure.

"These people have had to gut out their home and have their belongings along the curb. It's complete exposure for your life," says Pelot.

WSKG/Southern Tier reporter for the Innovation Trail.
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