I Hadn’t Expected It To Be So Dusty

Although I hadn’t expected a flood, either. I usually think of hurricanes sitting off the coast and dumping on Cape Cod and Boston (if they ever get that far). I don’t think of them as chewing their way up through Vermont. Of course that’s the perspective of a former Boston resident.

Like so many disasters and crises, the worst effects didn’t actually manifest until after the actual event had ended. Irene had moved on past us but the rivers continued rising.

The Connecticut River, which happens to be the boundary between New Hampshire and Vermont, overflowed causing the worst flooding this area has seen in recent times. The flooding seriously affected Route 12A, with water reported at 5 feet or higher inside stores like JC Penney’s and Kohl’s, crossing 12A and getting into the Walmart parking lot. Some of the affected stores will never re-open. Some estimate it will take 6 – 8 months before they can resume business.

Arguably the area’s best restaurant, Simon Pearce, overlooks a beautiful waterfall that spills over a dam and runs under a scenic covered bridge. The covered bridge was reported destroyed during the flooding though it was only damaged. Simon Pearce’s building flooded, wrecking their glass-blowing operation (fortunately they produce most of their glassworks elsewhere), a small kitchen and some water turbines. Thankfully the level with their main kitchen, dining area and store were spared, but it will still be an unknown length of time before they can resume operation. [update: And this shutdown happens just before leaf season, and extremely busy and vital time of the year for many local small businesses, and leaves many people unemployed at a time when the economy is still fragile and it’s difficult to find jobs]

And this is minor compared to what happened to some towns in Vermont. There are towns which are completely cut off, which have had all their roads collapse or be washed away. There are towns which have had buildings and businesses simply swept away. There are towns which have no water, electricity or other utilities. It is Vermont, though, so there are people riding horses to get around where they cannot use their cars.

I did not expect that the Quechee Gorge bridge on Route 4 in Vermont would be closed because hundreds of propane tanks dislodged and were swept along by the flooding Ottauquechee River, jamming up against the bridge. It sounds almost charmingly surreal until they start exploding.

It’s the dust that I really didn’t anticipate. The whole event was simply so wet, and the dust is so dry. It permeates West Lebanon. And of course, it’s made worse by the attempt to clean it up. I was thinking earlier while driving through West Lebanon that what we really need is a good rain, and then caught myself realizing we’d already had a bad one.

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