KEENE — It took 37 years to build a house into a home.
But after one tropical storm and almost three years of red tape, walls bearing so many memories came down in a few hours.
Linda Deyo watched as an Essex County Department of Public Works backhoe blade sank into the walls of her flood-damaged house.
The machine pulled it into a pile of rubble: pink insulation, cheerful sage-and-cream floral wallpaper, windows, rafters, pipes and all.
The sound blended the sharp clatter of broken glass with screaming nails and splintering wood.
“This is very bittersweet,” Deyo said.
“I have a lot of great memories from that house … of my kids with all their friends playing here.”
She watched as improvements added with care through many years were lifted and dropped into a dumpster.
“We just finished the addition and moved into it a week before (Tropical Storm) Irene hit,” she said.
The addition — a square bedroom filled with windows — still had fresh two-by-fours and puffy-pink insulation barely squashed or faded by time.
“It’s sad to see it come down, but I’ll be glad to see it gone,” Deyo said.
The home is one of 32 in Essex County badly damaged by the storm and purchased for demolition by the Federal Emergency Management Agency Property Acquisition and Buyout Program, according to Essex County Health and Safety Codes Enforcement Officer Seth Celotti.
‘BACK TO NATURE’
Driving by the property for the past two and a half years has been painful, she said.
She grew up in Keene and bought the property nearly 40 years ago. She built the house some 200 yards from the river, never once thinking water would reach this wide stretch of open land.
She raised two children, Dave Deyo and Kristy Deyo, in the house. Both now own and operate businesses in Keene — Baxter Mountain Tavern and Cedar Run, respectively.