WILMINGTON -- The author of a new book that chronicles the experiences of several towns during and after Tropical Storm Irene will be discussing her work at Bartleby's Books, Saturday.
"I think people continue to want to know what happened. People ask all the time. I think there's so much public interest," said Lisa Sullivan, owner of the bookstore.
On Aug. 24, author Peggy Shinn will be at the Wilmington bookstore on Main Street to speak about her book, "Deluge: Tropical Storm Irene, Vermont's Flash Floods and How One Small State Saved Itself."
Shinn told the Reformer that she is looking forward to visiting Wilmington, especially the business owners.
"I'm looking forward to seeing the town after the second summer after the storm and hopefully see how it is recovering," she said. "I haven't been there in about a year."
Her book describes the events that occurred during Irene and moreover, how towns in different areas of Vermont came together after the devastating effects of Irene. It includes vignettes from Wilmington, Jamaica, Newfane and other parts of the state.
"I think it's particularly good to have someone put the story together who's not in the center of it and who didn't experience all of the events in the book. She pulled it together in a way that I think is useful," said Sullivan. "It's how a series of communities have rallied and maybe found common ground and worked together."
While conducting interviews for her sister, a bureau chief for the Wall Street Journal in Atlanta, Shinn decided that she wanted to write something more than just a few articles. She began writing a book.
"What I tried to do is make an interesting narrative to keep people engaged in what was going on in Vermont," said Shinn. "For people not familiar with what happened to Vermont during Irene."
At the time of Irene, her sister at the Wall Street Journal was having difficulties reaching the newspaper's New England correspondent. Shinn rode her bicycle to visit towns nearby her home in Rutland to assist with storm coverage.
During the flood, water was rapidly rising in Bartleby's. The flooding had destroyed almost everything in the store. Shinn describes Sullivan and her husband Phil Taylor's discovery of the bookstore in ruin.
"At least four feet of water had flowed into Bartleby's Books on Sunday; they had seen books swimming in the mire the previous afternoon when they slid down the hillside behind their business in the rain and scrambled in the back door," wrote Shinn. "At the time, the river pouring through the bookstore was still at flood stage. There was nothing they could do. They had moved their inventory onto higher shelves, but they'd had no idea the water would reach as high as it did."
Bartleby's Books hosts regular author discussions, however, this event will be different in the sense that its location is a central part of the book.
After the flood, business owners were questioning whether they'd reopen and how long it would take. It was important for Sullivan to open sooner rather than later because her business was open seven days a week and it was a place for the community to gather.
"I think post flood, what we hoped to do and I think we were somewhat successful was get the store open as soon as possible and offer people hope who weren't able to open so quickly," Sullivan said. "We felt strongly that we wanted to open quickly and have a sense of normalcy again."
The book is very personal for Sullivan. She said that reading it can be "a little emotional."
Some parts have been forgotten such as a post that Sullivan wrote on the Bartleby's website at the time of the storm. She had not looked at that since posting it two years ago.
"It was strange to reread my own words," said Sullivan. "In reading things, it brings back how raw it felt at the time, how real it was."
The Bartleby's building has been used as a bookstore since 1989 with a series of different owners. Sullivan has been the most recent owner for nine and a half years.
Currently, she is putting together a similar book project, which will focus primarily on Wilmington.
"It will be heavy on photographs and personal stories," said Sullivan, who hopes to have the book out before the holidays.
Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or email@example.com. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.