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I have waited to write this thank you letter. I do not know how to thank the many people I never met who helped clean out my house after the floodwaters receded. The smell of the mud and silt and contaminants was overwhelming. We wore gloves and masks and high rubber boots and we picked through my books, family records, children’s artwork, photographs, trying at one point to dry an old book of bird sketches. A woman I did not know, who had come into The Valley to volunteer at the Mad River Relief office, sat with me on my porch as I tried to pick through a mountain of clothing and drawers of papers. It is beyond sad to have to throw out a lifetime of family treasures and memories.
More than half my home was flooded on August 28, 2011. The catastrophic nature of rushing waters and overflowing rivers in Vermont was beyond description. I knew that I was not alone in this nightmare as there were thousands who also lost their homes, land, livestock and family treasures. I couldn’t stop crying, not for the loss of material things but for the overwhelming task of rebuilding and starting over.
I was blessed with the gift of friendship and caring from Phil Lundblad and his wife Cheri who took charge of me and of the demolition, cleanup and rebuilding. They understood how to help in ways that I will never be able to repay. I cannot thank Lisa and Jack Martin who lost everything but somehow managed to move on because of their love for each other and their family. They were an inspiration and I am forever grateful for their kindness to me.
Thank you to the staff at the Waitsfield town office who were incredibly helpful and kind; to Dick Kingsbury and Bill Parker who saw so clearly that I needed help and support; to Senator Bernie Sanders who came into my destroyed home and gave me a much needed hug and reassurance that it would be okay; to Valerie Stark and Jon Jamieson at Jamieson Insurance whose support was outstanding; to Pam Druhen for the beautiful handmade quilts made for me by the Winter Warmth Project; and to Edie Connellee who appreciates the nightmare of dealing with flood insurance and FEMA. I know there are people I have forgotten to include and for those omissions, please accept my apology.
Thank you again to Phil Lundblad and Cheri and to all who live in Mad River Valley. This is a very special place, not just because it is so beautiful but because it is a real community.
Estin lives in Waitsfield.