High Waters

Flooding in New Paltz

When Hurricane Ida struck in August 2021, Robin Weinstein ’14 (Photography) took to the streets of New Paltz to photograph the storm's aftermath.

As she surveyed the scene, she was reminded of sloshing in the ankle-deep waters of Hurricane Irene, the destructive tropical cyclone which affected much of the Caribbean and East Coast of the United States during late August 2011. 



"High Waters" is a photo essay by SUNY New Paltz alumna Robin Weinstein ’14 (Photography). Pictured here: Roadways in New Paltz are flooded as a result of Hurricane Irene, 2011 (left) and Hurricane Ida, 2021 (right)."
Before Hurricane Katrina, I always felt like I could come back home. And home was a real place, and also it had this mythical weight for me. Because of the way that Hurricane Katrina ripped everything away, it cast that idea in doubt."
American Novelist Jesym Ward
Many of the homes surrounding the Wallkill River flooded as a result of Hurricane Irene, including apartments in the Town & Country complex. (Irene, 2011)

Photographing Hurricane Irene in 2011 was Robin's first assignment as photo editor at the New Paltz Oracle.

"It was exciting to be in the middle of the action, where village and town residents were gathering, but also shocking to see the devastation," she said. 

The row of sunflowers that New Paltz residents have grown to anticipate seeing each year droop in the floodwaters. (Ida, 2021)

On Sept. 2, 2021, the Wallkill River flooded as a result of Hurricane Ida’s heavy rains. This area, known as the “flats” in New Paltz, is comprised mainly of farmland and is prone to flooding due to its proximity to the river and low elevation. 

Hurricane Ida was documented to be a Category 4 hurricane which indicates a hurricane with winds between 130 mph to 156 mph – the damage expected from those winds include the removal of roofs, uprooting and snapping of trees and power outages.

As Hurricane Ida made its way up the east coast, through New York City and up through Ulster County, New Paltz experienced heavy rainfall which left many streets, fields and farms flooded. 

This is my home now and so I can more fully understand the effect of flooding on the farmers and those who live nearby."
Robin Weinstein ’14 (Photography)

Weinstein has been a New Paltz resident since 2010 and she's worked as the College's photographer since 2014. The alumna has made countless journeys on Route 299 and Springtown Road to the mountains to hike.

"I visit the River-to-Ridge Trail sometimes twice in a weekend," she said. "I've built new traditions, like having to visit Wallkill View Farms when I’m craving apple pie or when I can smell their apple cider donuts from the trail."

After more than 10 years in New Paltz, Weinstein is more connected with the town than ever before.

"This is my home now," she said. "And I can more fully understand the effect of flooding on the farmers and those who live nearby."

Follow Robin Weinstein ’14 on Instagram @robsta_gram

(Left) The guardrail along Route 299 disappears into the floodwaters (Irene, 2011). (Right) Not even flooding can stop the mailman on Plains Road in New Paltz, New York (Irene, 2011).
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