Friday September 2, 2011

MARLBORO -- The community gathered Thursday night in the gymnasium of Marlboro Elementary School to talk about what the town is facing, how to communicate with each other and how it can start to rebuild.

The hardest part of the last four days has been dealing with a sense of isolation, the residents said.

"On Monday there were no roads, no way out, period," Selectboard member Craig Hammond. "Because of the road crews there are now a number of roads open to avoid Ames Hill Road. Every day more roads are opening and for now people need to avoid using Ames Hill if possible."

When road foreman David Elliott entered the room the crowd erupted in a standing ovation, showing their support and gratitude for everyone's hard work.

More than 200 people showed up for the emergency Town Meeting to discuss health concerns, road conditions and address other concerns.

Residents embraced one another as they shared stories of survival following the destruction of Tropical Storm Irene and the flash floods that washed away homes and left hundreds of people stranded.

When Selectboard Chairwoman Lucy Gratwick asked the crowd who didn't have power, about a dozen people raised their hands, but more than 50 homes along Auger Hole Road are still without power, Internet, phones or an access road.

"As far as we know, everyone in town is accounted for, no fatalities," Gratwick said.

Gov. Peter Shumlin is scheduled to visit the town and speak with its residents today at 10:30 a.


Advertisement

m., at Marlboro College.

"This is a perfect opportunity to talk about what we need," one resident said. "Let's take advantage of that."

Lisa Hecht, the town's emergency management director, said that while she was on a telephone conference with other towns and members of the federal government, President Barack Obama signed a letter for FEMA to begin providing assistance to Windham County and Marlboro specifically.

Gratwick advised people to check their homes for water damage as mold can quickly set in and create severe health problems. Water test kits will be available at the Town Hall next week, she said.

Residents also discussed solutions for people who need assistance with livestock, propane and oil issues and Gratwick said there have been two Facebook message boards created to keep residents in communication.

Marlboro resident Shannon Albritton said she's been in constant contact with the town to update the Marlboro Vermont Message Board on Facebook, to provide lists of routes in and out of town, post their needs and find out how they can help.

Telephone and Internet is available at the school for people to check e-mail and send messages to family members and friends.

Late Thursday night, the Reformer learned that tractor-trailers have been cleared on a case-by-case basis to deliver supplies via Route 9 to Shaw's and Rite Aid in Wilmington so the residents of surrounding towns can continue to buy supplies there and not have to drive into Brattleboro. However, Route 9 is still not open to regular traffic.

The Marlboro Fair was delayed a couple weeks but there are still plans to celebrate the town's survival. Students and staff from the Putney School also offered to help out people in need.

Josh Stilts can be reached at 802-254-2311 x273 or jstilts@reformer.com.