KEENE - Two years ago in late August, John Hudson and Jane Martin had their lives changed dramatically by Tropical Storm Irene.
The couple was living a rented trailer near Gulf Brook in Keene, just downstream former the former Keene firehouse.
When Irene hit, it caused the normally tame Gulf Brook to expand and turn into a raging torrent, ripping away half of the firehouse (which was ultimately relocated) and destroying the trailer Hudson and Martin lived in.
Mike Lynch/Lake Placid News
Jane Martin and John Hudson inside their custom framing shop in Keene Valley.
"The trailer was fairly high, and the water was going underneath," Hudson recalled. "Pieces went up against the trailer and made a dam, and that's when the water went right up in through the windows, broke the trailer apart, took everything inside from the middle of the trailer to the kitchen, down the river."
Martin said their television and computer were washed downstream, and everything inside was damaged by water and debris.
"We had like 2 feet of sand in there, and everybody's oil tanks tipped over. So inside our trailer it smelled like, if you lit a match, it would explode," she said. "All the fire department jackets and hats were all inside our trailer. It was really kind of funny."
At about the same time this was happening, the East Branch of the AuSable River was spreading out in Keene Valley. The water there washed into Hudson's custom framing shop, damaging many of the items inside.
"It destroyed all my electrical, all my insulation," he said. "It destroyed probably $10,000 worth of stock - frames, moldings. Things like that and equipment."
Within a day's time, the world of Hudson and Martin had been turned upside-down. Their home was lost, and the framing shop was put out of business - at least temporarily. Without insurance, they relied on a fund from the town of Keene and some assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, in addition to loaned money.
Luckily, both had other jobs and didn't rely on the framing shop for all of their income. Hudson was the code officer for Keene, Jay and Elizabethtown, and Martin worked at the Adirondak Loj. Now Hudson only works for Keene and Elizabethtown, and Martin focuses on the framing shop.
Hudson is also a landscape oil painter, which is how he got into the framing business in 2009. He has owned two art galleries in the past: one in Keene and another in Keene Valley.
Over the last couple of years Hudson and Martin relied on their job incomes until they could get the frame shop going again. It re-opened in June. It is located on property off of state Route 73 that Hudson's family has owned since the 19th century. About a year ago, they moved into a trailer behind the shop.
To reopen the frame shop was a long process, and Hudson didn't actually think he would do it.
Hudson decided it was possible after he was able to get some important equipment working again. He was able to salvage a lot of the expensive specialized framing tools and a lot of the general tools that help get the job done. Things like his router and chop saw eventually started working after they dried out and he tuned them up.
"I basically saved most of my equipment, and to me that would be the huge expense that I would start back up again," he said.
The pair said the business isn't completely back to where it needs to be. They still need to build up their inventory, but things are looking up. They had a strong summer businesswise and hope to expand down the line.
A carpenter of 45 years, Hudson said he'd like to have several buildings constructed on the property in the future and create an art center where people could display their works and congregate for functions.
"Things are good now," Martin said. "We have a house, and we have a business."