Irene, Goodnight, Irene. Hope I never see you again.
Waterbury, Vermont. September 1
I knew souhern Vermont was going to be hit when I saw the forecast of rain. Here seemed tranquil. On Sunday, the day the hurricane arrived, there was a wind of about 20 to 30 mph and rain was constant, although never pelting. I placed a bucket on the porch and measured the rainfall in it the next day– 4 inches. My talk at Frog Hollow in Burlington for Sunday afternoon was cancelled. Rob of Frog Hollow called and said the street was deserted and most stores were closed but there was just a rainstorm. It was the weekend when the parents brought their kids up to UVM for the start of the semester. Rob figured he lost $6000 in sales over the weekend, including what I would have earned. He believed the parents dropped off their kids and rushed home to secure their properties.
Monday morning I was up early for my 7 AM acupuncture appointment in Stowe.. Beautiful morning; the fields and roads looked scrubbed. The only problem I saw was about 50 yards of the road leading into Moscow was flooded during the night but no damage and the water receded.
The acupuncturist blamed my headaches on my neck and the way I was holding my body after the rotocuff injury. She relieved it and gave me some pressure points in my hand to relieve headache, which I still have but not so bad. My shoulder is functioning better but the ct scan will tell the story. Comcast failed again and my landphone was not workin
g for five days!
On the way back from the needle lady I listened to WDEV, which is very good about reporting local emergencies. I was shocked. Waterbury Village, so close, was flooded. The main street was under swirling water. It flooded in the night, the Winooski attacking like a Delta force, and disappeared in the morning, leaving chaos. The water surged in houses on both sides of the street. 51 mental patients were evacutated from the hospital and all the other mental patients (state employees) had the day off. The cellar in the state building was flooded including the bank offices for the Vermont Credit Union. Water filled the basements and tunnels leading from the building to outlying houses.
Peter Holm’s new office building is on Main Streett. An apartment in the back was trashed with slimy mud, from the refrigerator on down. No flood insurance for the inhabitants of course. The water then went into Peter’s office and stopped just two inches below his Mac Quadras! All his books and old proofs wete in the dumpster. Very symbolic–it represented the old publishing way of proofs, books, binding and all that Peter and I grew up with, and it was all in the trash. Peter did not lose any current work and he has a habit of backing up every day. He had help from his friends and the others who owned the building with him and he will be in shape soon.
The Northfield Bank was also flooded and set up a temporary bank in a trailer in the parking lot. The Alchemist brewery had their offices and brewerey equipment downstairs. They say they are going to reopen but….they do have a new brewery and canning facility next to my home in Colbyville. There goes the neighborhood–down the hatch! Maybe they will participate in Colbyville Pig Day this fall.
In the morning I called my assistant Kyle and asked him, as I usually do, to come in. He did, a couple of hours later. He said the power was off (and was all day in Waterbury, but not at my house), the road was flooded and a bunch of houses were trashed with cresting currents. The commando team at work again. The worst was what happened to the Cider House, where Kyle works in the kitchen at night. Mud buried the restaurant, water and electricity was lacking. The owners took a look, told Kyle to take the food, and disappeared. The Cider House is famous for good southern cooking and ribs and cornbread and po boys and alligator sandwiches, gumbo, boiled shrimp, corn bread, key lime pie and other southern goodies. They also had on tap wonderful pear and blueberry cider made in Vermont.
Slimy mud covered everything. We piled our cars full of food and it is now in my freezer and refrigerator and Kyle’s mother has a bunch. If I eat that stuff I will become round as a pumpkin.
I drove the back road on the other side of the Winooski and saw where the water had crested, about 7 feet above the road and at least 15 feet about the river. A cornfield was smashed and I have no doubt the big cornfields south of Richmond are under, as are other cornfields planted in the rich soil bordering the Winooski. Some Turkish vegetable farmers on the other side of the Winooski, just beginning the harvest, lost everything.
Waitsifled and Moretown were particularly hard hit and isolated as roads and bridges were flooded or destroyed.
I saw other houses in a poorer section of town devastated. The owners were moving out their goods as others watched, eating pizza.
I was astounded that all this damage was just a mile away from my house, protected by the idiosyncracies of weather and elevation. Other people who drove to work from the north and didn’t listen to WDEV were shocked at what had happened but of course the water receded and it didn’t look that bad until the residents dumped out the destroyed furniture and detritus of their lives.
However, this is nothing compared to what happened in southern Vermont.
Volunteers are helping to clean up today and for the rest of the week. I’ll go down to the Cider House and help clean up.
Last night Kyle came over and cooked a meal, from the Cider House, of chicken, hamburger, steak. Also horseradish potato salad and key lime pie. Good grief.
There are still towns in Vermont that are stranded because of wiped out roads. Nearby Moretown, heavily hit by the rivers in town, mentioned on the radio this morning that they found the crest of the flood was three inches higher than the flood of 1927, the highest ever recorded until this flood, at least in Moretown. Downtown Waitsfield is a sea of muck yet Darrad’s office, our Mac repairman, house is there, a couple of feet higher, and he had no damage.
I mentioned how the cornfield in town was crumpled by the flood. Thinking of a good picture of flattened cornfield, I drove to Richmond where very large cornfields border the Winooski. They were flooded, but the water obviously flooded at an even pace and the corn stalks were not knocked down, and it receded leaving cornfields as they were, just the stalks and leaves bronzed with the muddy water. They should be easily harvested when the ground firms up. What I saw in Waterbury was obviously a vicious, strong surge of water that blasted into the cornfield, knocking it, bending it and in places flattening it, just like a huge fist. I am surprised there is so little loss of life. Only four so far. One covered bridge was swept away.
I took my generator and a fan down to the Cider House yesterday so they could at least start drying out before mold sets in. Today we go down and clean out muck. One weather forecaster made an interesting point. Climate change has caused the spring flood and this flood in Vermont and last year we had mountain roads wiped out in heavy rain storms. This never happened before. One problem is that the culverts are too small to funnel the water now coming off the mountains after storms like these. The metal pipes in these culverts probably should be at least double the size. One cost of global warming.
During the storm Waterbury lost power and the state emergency communication center moved to Burlington. WDEV stayed on for 24 hours, used a generator for power and acted as the clearing center for news about the storm and what areas were hard hit and where stranded people needed help. They should have an award.
A Cider House employee lived in a trailer near Montpelier. During the storm he saw the water raise near his trailer four inches so he moved his car to higher ground. When he came back it was up to his knees and rising fast. He grabbed his dog and with his girl friend had to swim away from the trailer. Shortly after he rescued three people, two trapped in their car and one in a trailer.
Had to go to Epoch Gallery in Manchester thursday morning and couldn’t get there from here unless I went on a devious routes. On one section of Route 11 near Chester the road was about 30 feet above a brook that roared and took out half the road. Down below beside the stream has a log house on its side.
On the way back from Manchester to Waterbury I thought of taking a shortcut near Danby and inquired from a local about the road condition. “What road?”, he replied. “There
is no more road.”
I hope that your area will be back to normal as soon as possible. I still have friends in Philly and New Jersey still trying to clean up after the Irene’s aftermath.
Anyway, I also read about your Comcast service problem. I work for Comcast and I decided reach out to you to offer my help. I can reach out to my local colleagues to check on the repairs for your area. Please feel free to contact me.
National Customer Operations