Editor of the Reformer:
Irene recovery nearing end? Hardly.
The headline of the Reformer’s page 3 of Monday’s edition trumpets "2 years after Tropical Storm Irene, Vermont’s recovery nears end." Well, I certainly hope not, because we’re nowhere near recovered.
The article itself is more balanced than the headline, stressing the overwhelming tasks that continue to face municipalities, businesses, farms, and homeowners to "recover" from the storm. Two full years from the storm, my town, Newfane, like a great many others through the state, is very far from recovered. Homeowners who lost everything have not recovered; businesses that have been driven out of business have not recovered; our town’s infrastructure, with two large bridges yet to be constructed, has not recovered. Our town’s coffers are sharply reduced due to the costs of the storm compounded by the complexities of being reimbursed for covered damage. Those businesses that have survived continue to struggle. The beauty of our environment remains dramatically scarred by ravaged vegetation and threatened to be overwhelmed by invasive species. Homeowners continue to deal with paying for massive costs either not covered by state and federal programs or awaiting reimbursement for covered damages. Farms and nurseries have suffered losses they will never be able to recoup. The long-term economic effects, felt acutely in the form of increased taxation, will be with us for years to come.
There are indeed some hidden benefits: Our sense of community continues to prosper due to energetic work, like this past weekend’s Rock River Revival, to work together to renew in the face of the disaster. But there are also hidden costs: Besides the dramatic effects on tourism and real estate, there is also the fact that the immense effort to recover and to be appropriately reimbursed for damage to municipal infrastructure requires enormous human resources sapping energy from efforts to improve the town. With so much energy going, of necessity, to recovery, where is there energy for progress?
So please don’t tell us the recovery is over. The details in the article tell the story better than the headline. The struggle to fully recover from a storm of this magnitude in an area this small economically is indeed "daunting" and it will continue to be daunting in the years ahead.
South Newfane, Aug. 28
Editor of the Reformer:
Nowadays, people think that construction people, state workers and generally labors just hang around holding up a shovel. Well sometimes, yes, but not the gentlemen at the Chesterfield dump No siree, Bob. When ever I’ve had large, heavy or bulky rubbish loads, these guys are here for me and all others as well. They will climb into the 100-yard dumpsters to stack stuff as neat as a pin in order to save the town money, getting as much material into the bins as possible. They help every single one that pulls up whether they have just one bag or a dozen. On this occasion, I had loads and loads of magazines, papers, cardboard boxes and everything in between. This trailer weighed over a ton.
These gentlemen know who they are and are quite shy about what they do, stating, "It’s just what we do." I thought I was going to be there for at least an hour and a half, but with those two guys in high gear, it was 10 minutes and I was pulling out and on my way while they stacked and made all the dumpsters orderly again.
I would like to recognize these outstanding public "super" performers for all their hard work, friendliness and true devotion to their jobs and the town. Thanks guys! By the way I’ve got another trailer load even bigger and heavier this time.
W. Chestefield, N.H., Aug. 30