It's mid-August, and soon the 20 some houses--the entire community of Landgraff--will be gone.
Since July 8, the solid two-story older homes have stood, mostly empty, looking vacantly at the drivers who pass on Route 52 and stare at them. It is as if you are passing through an abstract sand sculpture. Each house is wrapped in whirls of sand up to its first floor. Two and three-foot-high sand sculptures with the look of the whimsy of a beach afternoon that hides the dreadful outcome of a few hours of rain.
Most of the houses have the flourescent orange numbers pasted on by the fire marshall as a signal for the wrecking ball. Even the rambling brick bed and breakfast inn at the end of the street appears headed to the dump. It began life as a boarding house for miners in the boom days of the teens and twenties of the 20th Century.
Landgraff is a few miles east of Kimball and downstream from North Fork. The water that rushed through Landgraff began in the mountains north and east of North Fork--in the areas that had been timbered, and where old slate dumps and old strip mines lie over the mountains like squares on a quilt.
Virtually no one remains in Landgraff to talk about the flood. But Jerry Hazzard, a retired miner from Kimball, who had friends in Landgraff, lays part of the blame on timbering and mining.
Hear Jerry Hazzard:
However, he also saw a lot of trees, logs, railroad ties and debris caught behind the culvert under the road just before Kimball. When the water couldn't get through the culvert, it jumped the banks and spread out over the entire community, dumping sand unabashedly in its wake.