UPPER JAY — The water in the Dentons’ house was 4 feet high.
“It came here from all directions,” said Bob, 71. “We’ve been through a number of floods but nothing like this.”
He and his wife, Linda, 63, lost almost everything in the wake of Tropical Storm Irene a year ago. Furniture, clothing, photos and many other things they had collected over the years were swept away in the current.
The only item of value that they salvaged was Linda’s birth certificate.
A flood in 1996 caused more than $30,000 in damage to the Dentons’ home; Bob said he didn’t even bother to calculate the monetary damage this time.
Unfortunately, their house wasn’t insured.
TO THE RESCUE
Recovery has been slow.
Until July of this year, they lived in a room at the Brookside Motor Inn in Upper Jay. And when the inn couldn’t extend their stay due to previous reservations, the Dentons didn’t know where they’d go next.
But thanks to a handful of volunteers, the Dentons now have another place to call home.
The Adirondack Stepsides Car Club and Christopher Straight, who is the club secretary and Car Show coordinator, organized a group of volunteers to help make a former art studio into living quarters for the couple.
Located just down the road from their old residence, the building was once a workshop for Arto Monaco, the creative mind behind the longtime Upper Jay attraction the Land of Make Believe.
The iconic artist left the place to Linda and the Dentons’ daughter, Carrie Denton, of Upper Jay.
During one work session this summer, 13 people were busy at work clearing out the inside of the building as the hot afternoon sun beat down.
One of the volunteers, Straight said, brought skills in plumbing, carpentry and electrical work.
And two employees from Ward Lumber in Jay volunteered their services.
Straight secured a refrigerator, washer, dryer, stove, a couch and a chair from donors, including the AuSable Forks Knights of Columbus.
The generosity overlays memories of the flooding.
Linda knew the river would flood, but her first instinct was to stay in her house because that’s what she had always done in the past.
She and Bob had seen about 20 floods since the 1970s, when they moved into their home on the corner of Route 9 and Trumbull Road in Upper Jay.
Denton, who was then a member of the Upper Jay Fire Department, was going door to door in the midst of the storm with a colleague, advising residents to evacuate immediately.
“They said, ‘You’ve got to get out,’” Linda said.
She and Bob rushed next door and carried Linda’s 100-year-old Aunt Gladys Monaco — Arto’s widow — to safety.
As the flood intensified, Bob and Linda rescued their three dogs from the rising waters.
But they weren’t able to get to their pony in time.
“He got killed — drowned,” Linda said. “One guy tried to save him, and he almost got killed, too.”
The man “was pretty upset, and people were crying because it was our last pony” living from the days when the Land of Make Believe was open.
CAR SHOW SATURDAY
Saturday, the Adirondack Stepsides Car Club will hold its third-annual Adirondack Show and Shine Car Show, donating 75 percent of the proceeds to individual flood victims who need help getting back on their feet.
The remaining 25 percent will go to local organizations that were affected by Irene, such as Wells Memorial Library in Upper Jay.
Straight said he knows of about 19 people who lived near the Dentons in Upper Jay who are in need of help, as well.
He is speaking with officials there and those in surrounding towns so he and the other volunteers can get to work helping another family.
After losing so much, the Dentons hope their new home will be a new beginning for them.
“This is a step toward higher ground,” Bob said.
IF YOU GO
The third-annual Adirondack Show and Shine Car Show starts at 9 a.m. Saturday at Ward Lumber at 697 Glen Road in Jay. There will be a chicken barbecue at 1 p.m., costing $6.95. Only 200 plates are available.
Last year, 68 cars were shown and between 300 and 400 people attended. Car painter and airbrusher Bob Weeks “The Pinstripper” and Penelope the Clown will be at the event.
For each nonperishable food item or book attendees bring, they will receive one raffle ticket that will give them a chance to win more than a dozen car-related prizes. Children’s books are especially needed at the Wells Memorial Library.
Entry fee for the car show is $15 and includes a meal. Register online at www.adkstepsides.com. For more information, call Chris Straight at 420-5950 or email email@example.com.
In a Press-Republican series that starts Sunday, read more about how people in the North Country were affected by the tropical storm that swept through the North Country on Aug. 28, 2011, and the efforts made to recover from the millions of dollars in damage it caused. IF YOU GO The Third Annual Adirondack Show and Shine Car Show will start at 9 a.m. Saturday at Ward Lumber, 697 Glen Road, Jay. There will be a chicken barbecue at 1 p.m. The cost is $6.95. Only 200 plates are available. Last year, 68 cars were shown and between 300 and 400 people attended the car show. Car painter and airbrusher Bob Weeks "The Pinstripper" and Penelope the Clown will be at the event. For each nonperishable food item or book attendees bring, they will receive one raffle ticket that will give them a chance to win more than a dozen car-related prizes. Children's books are especially needed at the Wells Memorial Library. Entry fee for the car show is $15 and includes a meal. Register online at www.adkstepsides.com. For more information, call Chris Straight at (518) 420-5950 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.