As The Valley Reporter goes to press on August 28, 2019, we are reminded that it’s been eight years since Tropical Storm Irene battered our state and our Valley.
The devastation is hard to describe. Moretown Village was inundated. Bridge Street was hit so hard. Our friends in Waterbury on Randall Street and beyond suffered incredibly. The state offices were badly damaged. Warren Village was flooded. Duxbury was flooded.
People fled for their lives, running uphill to escape the rising Winooski River. When the Mad River burst its banks and entered Moretown Village, people took shelter in the elementary school until it too flooded. Farm fields were ruined, crops destroyed and equipment was damaged.
To our south Rochester was cut in half and Hancock was cut off. A cemetery was flooded and caskets floated downstream. It was horrific and painful.
The aftermath was a lot of mud and wet belongings and damaged buildings and infrastructure. But we also witnessed one of the most amazing things many have ever seen – people grabbed their mud boots and buckets and shovels and turned out to help.
People came in droves from near and far and volunteered and helped their neighbors. Donations poured into the Mad River Valley Community Fund, which was able to offer real and significant help to our neighbors.
That empathy and the volunteerism that we received make us all so aware of the impact of flooding on other parts of the country. We know firsthand what it’s like.
With Warren planning work on Mill Road, finally getting ready to fix residual Tropical Storm Irene damage next month, and with all of our town leaders, administrators and road crews having had to learn to speak the language of FEMA, it’s clear Irene left a lasting impact on us.
The bridge on Route 100B over the Mad River in Moretown was badly damaged by Irene and will be replaced next year. It took Duxbury years to sort out its road damage from Irene and now the town is dealing with more heavy rain damage from this spring.
We’ve learned that we can do more to slow down the flow of stormwater from the smaller high-elevation streams that feed the Mad and Winooski Rivers and flood resiliency is a real concept here.
Here’s to how far we’ve come in eight years and what we’ve learned.