On this one-week anniversary of Irene in Vermont, I’d like to share some of what was posted on Facebook as the day of devastation unfolded:
Very scary in Medburyville. Our bridge to the treehouse is gone and our field and horse pasture is flooding fast. Our horse fence is starting to go down…
Stream in front of my house looks like it may jump the banks… car is packed up and on high ground…. Keep your fingers crossed that my house doesn’t get flooded!
Route 9 near the Brattleboro Naturopathic Clinic is washed out. Be careful folks!
Whetstone Brook raging downtown.
Flat Street flooded.
Lower Bartonsville Covered Bridge gone
The road is gone just down a bit from our house in Marlboro.
Downtown Wilmington washed away.
As these posts trickled in (and then stopped as people lost power), it was friends outside of the state, watching the news, who posted about the magnitude of the flooding:
Downtown Brattleboro is underwater with much debris heading down stream. Many many roads and bridges are washed out. Sounds like most people are in isolation where they are. National Guard is in West Bratttleboro and trying to get emergency help up to Wilmington and Marlboro as they are in total isolation. Rte 9 washed out as well.
In the days following, power was restored to the Green Mountain State, and posts like these next ones expressed what we were all feeling:
I was hoping to wake today and find yesterday a bad dream….
Between the shooting, the earthquake and the flash flood, my little nervous system has been on overdrive.
It’s really amazing how a little brook can change so rapidly into a newsworthy disaster. Very sobering.
The community on Facebook grew day by day, and looking back, I’ll always remember the FB conversation that helped us find our way home on that treacherous night one week ago today. It began with this question that I put out to friends:
We’re on our way up 91 to exit 2, can we get home to Marlboro?
Ellen: Route 9 is closed from Orchard St to Bennington
Ruth: They won’t even let you past the farmer’s mkt. they have engineers coming to check even the little bridges. we’re stuck in west b. if they’ll let you thru to my house, we have room for y’all
Is the back way open to Marlboro?
Jen: Hey Kel, I think you might make it somewhat close to your house if you go through Guilford, but up here the roads are washed out and I don’t think you can get down MacArthur
Jennifer J: Not likely. You can’t get close enough to get to a back roaads
Jennifer J.: IF, and this is a big if, you could go up and over Orchard St & IF the bridge on Meadowbrook was still in tact you could take a right on Western Ave to get to Ames Hill. Lots of questions about the bridges on any back roads.
Ellen: Meadowbrook was closed this afternoon
Jen: Liz made it up here just a while ago on Guilford Center Road. She said you could get down MacArthur from the Ames Hill side. This was a few hours ago, but they did make it…
Someone said that road was flooded
Jen: unsure….. everything is a mess, but it was done a little earlier; i think they only took guilford center to tater lane, the south street to come out by 7-11. then up ames hill…
Alright, we’re going to try that way now. Thanks Jen.
(We never saw the next series of posts until days later when our power was restored.)
Sara: Hi Kelly – Guilford is a mess all the brooks are raging and lots of roads closed.
Jen: Good luck you all!
Stephanie: Be careful!
Michelle: Be Careful!!!!
Sara: If you can get to our house you are welcome to stay here tonight – write if you need directions. At Richmond Auto take Guilford center road go approx 3 miles… I’ll leave the lights on.
Amanda: Are you Safe somewhere??
Stephanie: I just got a message from them. They are almost home, hiking in the last mile.
Michelle: Thanks for the update steph!!!!!
Mary: Just found out about the flooding there. I hope everyone is safe.
Robin: Oh my heavens!
Ciri: Did you make it home?
Robin M.: Did you make it home? Jason saw your car abandoned on Fox. Rd.
Three days later, we were back on Facebook and got our first glimpse of how widespread the damage had been. Image after image revealed the destruction in each of the surrounding towns and beyond. And yet, what resonated most with me and everyone I talked to was this:
One reporter who had covered both Katrina and Joplin, Missouri, said that he was struck by how upbeat the people of Vermont were following our catastrophe.
Except for those who lost their homes or businesses, most of us are focused on how fortunate we were. We all know someone who has it worse, and right now (at least in my town) there are more people offering help (even from out of state) than there are requests for help.
Perhaps it’s because anyone who chooses to live here or visit here embraces the natural beauty in a way that transcends comfort or convenience, and relies on community to survive–both physically and personally.
Calvin Coolidge, our nation’s 30th President, summed it up best in a quote that has been circulating on Facebook this week:
“I love Vermont because of her hills and valleys, her scenery and invigorating climate, …but most of all because of her indomitable people. They are a race of pioneers who have almost beggared themselves to serve others. If the spirit of liberty should vanish in other parts of the Union, and support of our institutions should languish, it could all be replenished from the generous store held by the people of this brave little state of Vermont.” ~ President Calvin Coolidge
Kelly Salasin, Marlboro, Vermont