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As town supervisor Bill Ferebee looks on, Gov. Andrew Cuomo lauds Keene for response to Irene Photo: Brian Mann
As town supervisor Bill Ferebee looks on, Gov. Andrew Cuomo lauds Keene for response to Irene Photo: Brian Mann

In long Irene recovery, Keene's celebration day

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The brand new $2.8 million Keene fire hall was crowded with neighbors and dignitaries over the weekend.

They came on a damp Saturday morning to celebrate the rebuilding effort that followed Irene's devastating blast of water nearly two years ago.

Construction of a new, state-of-the-art fire house has come to symbolize the town's resilience following the storm.

But it's also a sign of the costly new infrastructure that experts say will be needed as more extreme weather patterns develop because of climate change.

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Reported by

Brian Mann
Adirondack Bureau Chief

The Keene fire hall, damaged by flooded Gulf Brook during Tropical Storm Irene. Photo: Kathy Regan
The Keene fire hall, damaged by flooded Gulf Brook during Tropical Storm Irene. Photo: Kathy Regan
On Friday afternoon, water in the creek by Keene's old fire hall was torrenting past, so glutted that it was pushing big rocks around, making a sound like thunder.

There was flooding across a large swath of the eastern Adirondacks over the weekend. So when people started turning up at the new fire hall – situated on high ground – memories of Irene were fresh.

U.S. Rep. Bill Owens, state Sen. Betty Little and Gov. Andrew Cuomo turned out for the ribbon cutting ceremony. Photo: Brian Mann
U.S. Rep. Bill Owens, state Sen. Betty Little and Gov. Andrew Cuomo turned out for the ribbon cutting ceremony. Photo: Brian Mann
"As you all know, on August 28 2011, tropical storm Irene chose to damage not only the town, but also chose to damage our fire department," said Keene supervisor Bill Ferebee. "The department had stood for over fifty years. It served our community well and the communities that surround us."

Jody Whitney, Keene's fire chief, stood in front of racks of fire coats and helmets, looking at the large engine bays and the training area. He said the new structure will help his crews do their jobs.

"It's a state of the art facility. It's going to assist us in training and all aspects of firefighting and EMS. It's a much more organized, just the facility we need," Whitney said.

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