Catskills Wedding Caught in a Freak Flash Flood

The barn at Handsome Hollow. Photo via the wedding venue's Instagram feed.

A four-acre beaver dam ruptured in a pounding summer rainstorm in Long Eddy last night, sending floodwaters rushing through a wedding reception and forcing more than 130 guests to evacuate.

No one was injured in the short-lived drama at Handsome Hollow, a popular 2-year-old wedding site on 93 acres in the town of Hancock, where the nuptials of two prominent members of New York City’s food media were under way in a restored 18th-century barn. Matt Duckor, a senior editor at Conde Nast website Epicurious, and Dawn Perry, the culinary content editor at Martha Stewart start-up Marley Spoon, had finished their first dance when the waters started to rise.

“It came up really fast, and it left really fast,” said Kate Murphy, who owns and operates Handsome Hollow with her husband, Huck Botko. “I thought I was imagining things.”

As the water rose in the field surrounding the barn at about 9:20 p.m., everyone escaped to higher ground at the nearby farmhouse and waited for emergency officials to arrive, Murphy said.

Responding to the call, fire crews found the intersection of Route 28 and Shea Road in southern Delaware County covered in 12 to 18 inches of rapidly moving water. Here’s the account from the Hancock Volunteer Fire Department, which headed the massive response involving more than a dozen local agencies:

Upon arrival at this location, an incident command structure was established. A process for accounting for all wedding guests was quickly implemented, along with a search of the flooded area. Once it was determined that the water was quickly receding and all 130 plus individuals were accounted for and safe on higher ground, the additional activated resources were canceled. After assuring a safe exit route, all guests were assisted onto awaiting coach buses that had been provided for the wedding and driven to a safe location.

About two hours after the initial call, the area was cleared and Route 28 reopened. The bridge and lower part of Shea Road were closed overnight due to washouts. The road had been repaired and reopened by noon today, according to Hancock officials, who were assisted in their efforts by many other agencies, including fire, rescue and swift water teams from Deposit, Walton, Sidney, Long Eddy, Delaware County and the New York State Police.  

Handsome Hollow’s crew is cleaning up today, but there was no lasting damage, Murphy said, noting the incident was caused solely by the rupture of the beaver pond dam on her neighbor’s property.

“We’re fine. There were just a lot of sticks and debris–and mud,” Murphy said.

The bride and groom and their guests were totally understanding and gracious and “took it pretty much in stride,” Murphy said.

Posts on social media recount a quick recovery after the guests relocated to drier environs.

“These are the people you want on your squad–who wash their feet after the flood and dance all night at weird hotels because the dancing portion was NOT to be missed,” the bride captioned an Instagram photo of the after-party this morning.

“Definitely a night we’ll never forget, for all sorts of reasons,” the groom said.


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