Thinking about Vermont

5 Sep

A week after Irene swept the eastern coast, communities throughout the country are picking up the pieces.

While many of us remember holding our breaths as the storm touched our hometowns, it’s easy to forget about the effects once it’s long gone. Unless you’re living in Vermont.

Hurricane and Tropical Storm Irene devastated states, destroyed towns and left many without power for days. In central Vermont, and in other severely affected communities, some people are still without a way out. Roads remain closed indefinitely and the looming threat of flash floods with more rain makes it hard to be hopeful they’ll be open soon.

I read an article in yesterday’s Rutland Herald, “Life in isolated towns settling into new (ab) normal,” about the Pittsfield and Stockbridge, Vt. Pittsfield’s emergency management coordinator,Peter Borden, has three cell phones to field calls. The town clerk greeted a caller with the typical: “Hello, Town of Pittsfield,” followed by, “I’m sorry, the town is in a state of emergency. Can you call back in two weeks?”

I tried to get in touch with Spartan Race founder and Pittsfield resident Joe Desena, who runs a bed & breakfast at Riverside Farm. He was quick to get back with me with photos, but we weren’t able to catch each other by phone. On his end, it’s understandable why.

Courtesy Joe Desena -- Three children in Pittsfield, Vt., sit on road washed out by Tropical Storm Irene.

When Irene hit, Desena and his wife, Courtney, made their hilltop B&B into a rescue and relief center. One man was there with a wedding party from New Jersey and recalled the town’s collective efforts in a story on Minyanville.com:

On the first night after the storm, the US marshals came into our bed & breakfast and rounded up any males from the wedding party who felt able to assist in the rescue and recovery efforts. Town members from all walks—lawyers, doctors, the butcher the and even the shepherd quickly put everything aside to ensure the safety of those most affected.

On Thursday, Desena was assisting with cleanup, driving a backhoe with ruined carpet to an oversize trash container in town, the Rutland Herald reported.

For people in areas like this, it’s a long haul ahead. We should keep these people in our thoughts and lend a hand in any way possible.

***

The Red Cross needs monetary donations.

Vermont has a hotline: 1-800-Vermont.

Killington is another area, just a few miles south of Pittsfield, that’s also in distress. (For a comprehensive map on Vermont flooding, closures and emergency info, click here.)

***

I spoke to chat several residents for a recent FasterSkier story on the state of cross-country ski areas in the east following Irene. Most said they’ll be fine by the time winter rolls around, but more rain won’t help. We can’t control the weather, but let’s help our neighbors out.

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