I was in Vermont when Irene hit and the devastation that resulted is hard to fully comprehend. We have certainly had our share of storms and Nor’easters, but it wasn’t the high winds that were the problem – it was the flooding of most every river in the state.
Rivers became lakes, overflowing across roadways, through homes and businesses, hitting owners – few of them with flood insurance. Flooding is not a normal event here – they call this a “500 year” storm!
Bridges were washed away and roads disappeared. In our town of Waitsfield, the river rose almost 20 feet and undermined the historic covered bridge. A key historic building that lost its foundation may be condemned. The flood ran through the local stores, leaving behind 4-6 inches of sludge and an unhealthy film on everything inside.
But on Monday morning, under a bright sun, hundreds of volunteers in Waitsfield and Warren lined up to help. (And I know that this was the case throughout the state.) Fulltime residents and vacationers joined together to help by emptying homes and businesses of endless buckets of sludge and all sorts of debris. People worked to scrape away the muck from the streets. This work has continued and a headquarters has been established in the center of town for volunteers to find out where they are needed next.
It is frustrating to see so many suffer through a natural disaster like this, but it is also inspirational to see the unrestrained community response of neighbors, friends, and visitors. I don’t know if all of the businesses will be able to recover from this setback, but for those that do, it would not have been possible without the help they received from these generous volunteers.