Muddy Waters

For the first time since I started Big Hungry Shelby more than a year ago, I've really struggled this week with what to write. Of course, my original intent was to provide a mouth-watering recap of my recent trip to the UK. But whilst I was galivanting around England, gobbling up all the tasty treats in my path like some sort of Mrs. Pac-Man wannabe, my beloved Southern Tier, my adopted hometown, was experiencing the worst flooding in its history.

This is the bird's eye view of Johnson City, where I work, during the flood
Shawn and I were incredibly lucky in that our home sustained no water, but entire neighborhoods that hug the Susquehanna River in this community have lost everything. Flood waters in homes reached nine, 10 feet, sometimes more. Drive around West Corners or Owego, and you see piles of ruined belongings in front of each and every home. Mountains of mattresses, pillows, clothing, carpet...anything porous fell victim and everything that made these houses homes is now wiped out.

The contents of someone's life
It's impossible for me to tell you about food when countless families can no longer cook in their kitchens, impossible for me to joke around about clotted cream when God knows how many tons of raw sewage flowed through the building at which I worked before September 8, 2011. Our offices have been relocated, for now, to old IBM space in Endicott, while hundreds of my colleagues rescue flood-damaged equipment from our flood-ravaged workplace. It's all unspeakably sad.

That's my office, under water
So instead, I'm asking you this week to get yourself something delicious to eat, from the most comforting place you know, sit down at your computer, and donate some money to flood relief. Our foodbanks, the Red Cross and other relief organizations are running on empty right now in order to serve this community. For my own part, I will be helping out
Mom's House, a wonderful organization that helps single mothers with childcare and other necessary services so that they can take the best care possible of their children while still holding down jobs and putting food on the table, and which lost its facility in the flood. Other worthy organizations:Food Bank of the Southern Tier
Tioga United Way
South Central NY Red Cross

I also would like to give a shout-out to some of my favorite restaruants that I know were severely flooded during this disaster. I encourage you, Big Hungries, to patronize these joints HARD as soon as they're open. They need our support more than ever: Number 5 Restaurant, Southside Yanni's, Moxie Woodfire Grill, and Las Chicas Taqueria.

As ever, Big Hungries, I am excited to bring you more tales from great restaurants around the planet, but right now, as my co-workers and I run on adrenaline and caffeine, I just don't have the heart to say anything but: we may be down, but we're not out. Stay tuned. Something yummy this way comes! My personality is big; My hunger is bigger.

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