Just over a week after Tropical Storm Irene unfurled her fury on parts of Vermont, flooding towns up and down this long spit of a state and taking out roads and historic covered bridges, the battered region is under a flash flood watch today and tomorrow as heavy rains move through the area.
My 84-year-old mother lives in Wilmington, a small town that was destroyed by the floodwaters. Wilmington sits just over the Massachusetts border, nestled between Bennington and Brattleboro, the gateway to route 100 and ski country. Mount Snow is about a 15 minute drive up the now cratered road.
Even a week later, my mother still can’t travel the length of route 9, the state’s east-west artery, and the road that links Wilmington to Bennington’s and Brattleboro’s services. My mother had to cancel a doctor’s appointment at Brattleboro Memorial Hospital the other day; the route to get there now so circuitous, her usual 30 minute drive would have have taken a good hour and a half — and that barring any unforeseen stoppages.
Trucks have been unable to traverse route 9 to deliver food to the local supermarket, but a couple finally made it up another way from Massachusetts for the first time Thursday, and the repair crews hard at work fixing the roads and bridges now travel hours out of their way hauling materials back and forth in an attempt to make the roads passable again.
Luckily my mom, and her home — an 180-year-old farmhouse on a rural road, up a hill — weathered the storm just fine — no damage to either of them. And her pantry is well stocked. But that doesn’t mean she’s not impacted. All Vermonters are impacted in some way as she says.
“For me, it’s the psychological impact. I am personally, not physically affected. It’s the sadness to see this. The incredulity of nature doing its work,” she told me.
Self-sustaining lot that Vermonters are, they’re banding together, town by town, exchanging information, readily volunteering to help those in need, and living up to their strong, stubborn reputation as survivors who refuse to let their feathers get ruffled — even in the worst of storms.
I asked my mom what it’s like to be there now, and what it was like a week ago Sunday when Irene hit with a vengeance.
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