There is nothing like the fearsome and unyielding force of nature to remind the humble human race of their relatively small size and power. The flash floods that ripped through The Valley last weekend were a reminder that Mother Nature rules and we exist at her discretion. But as powerful as nature is, it cannot and did not conquer the human desire to help a friend, neighbor or stranger in need.

 “We are the planet fully as much as its water, earth, fire and air are the planet and if the planet survives, it will only be through heroism. Not occasional heroism, a remarkable instance of it here, there, but constant heroism, systematic heroism, heroism as governing principle,” wrote Russell Banks in Continental Drift.


Local acts of heroism were abundant and evident during the early morning hours of June 27, 1998, and in the days that followed.


Can there be any greater heroes than the firefighters and ambulance service members who hurried to their posts to see if their neighbors and Valley visitors were safe and needed help?


And how about the people, who are members of neither emergency service, but got up and offered help, transportation, coffee, phones and other assistance from the early morning hours on? They’re heroes too.


Hero status must also go to those who stood hour after hour at various road closure junctions patiently explaining what was going on and rerouting people around the flooding.


The acts of heroism weren’t limited to locals either. Certainly the rescue crews who hastened to Warren where people were stranded in trees and houses deserve mention, as do the state police officers and sheriff’s deputies who arrived early and stayed late.


While many complain that the wheels of the state and federal bureaucracies turn slowly, one can’t complain about the speed with which Vermont Agency of Natural Resources and FEMA personnel got to The Valley to help with clean-up decisions and financial assistance. Those people are more than paper-pushing bureaucrats who slow up permits. They were heroes too, doing their best to help the residents of The Valley get back on their collective feet.


And to everyone else in The Valley, to the heavy equipment operators who still haven’t slept because so many roads and yards still need to be fixed, to the businesses donating time and equipment, to the individuals offering a helping hand or a hug to their neighbors, to those sweeping the streets and picking up debris, thank you, you’re all heroes and you make the world a better place.


Out-of-town visitors stranded in Moretown during the height of the flood commented not about the water but a community of people helping each other through crisis—heroism as a governing principle.

--The Valley Reporter, July 2, 1998