On a warm Sunday afternoon in late-August, horror washed across Vermont.
The national news had been covering the approach the entire previous week. Local and state officials were doing their best to prepare for the oncoming storm, but no one could have anticipated what was to come.
What made Irene such a surprise is that it became a wolf in sheep’s clothing. By the time the hurricane reached New England, it was downgraded to a tropical storm. By the time Irene struck Vermont, we were spared the severe winds ... but oh the rain!
It rained, and it rained, and it rained. And no amount of preparation was going to stop the rising waters from going anywhere and everywhere, wrecking damage all along the way.
They say a picture’s worth a thousand words, and by mid-day on Aug. 28, 2011, there was no lack of photos to be seen. There are several images that really struck us here in the newsroom, telling a story of devastation.
There was the scene from the top of the parking garage in downtown Brattleboro, looking down over Flat Street -- the usual view of parking lots and pavement submerged under cloudy, chocolate-colored water. The same view the following day, this time of crews working to clear the area of mud and debris, is equally as strong.
There’s the image a reader shared on Facebook, of the Deerfield River exceeding its banks in downtown Wilmington, spilling over the bridge next to
There’s the video one alert resident captured, in the seconds before the Bartonsville Bridge in Rockingham crumbled into the water below and washed away. By the time our photographer made it there the following day, all that was left were two sections of road, coming to an end on each side of the riverbank.
Route 5 in Westminster, flooded out. Portions of Dover Road in Williamsville, and Route 100 in Jacksonville, washed out.
Bridges gone; roads destroyed; buildings submerged. The photos told this story time and time again. It was clear, sometimes, no matter how prepared you try to be, there’s just no stopping Mother Nature.
It will be months, perhaps even years, before many of us recover completely from the devastation that rained down on the region courtesy of Tropical Storm Irene. To this day, many residents of towns across Windham County are struggling with what they witnessed or, in many cases, what they survived.
But, as we stated in this very space almost a year ago to the day: Despite what Mother Nature throws at us, we still manage to get back up and do what needs to be done.
From Brattleboro to Wilmington, from Halifax to Jamaica, from Bellows Falls to Wardsboro, people picked up shovels, and chain saws, and hammers and saws ... and they went to work to fix what was broken.
We saw it daily: Neighbors helping neighbors, expecting nothing in return. That’s just what we do in this part of the world. We stand up when we are knocked down and we reach out and help those who have been knocked down, too.
This is a quality of character we are proud of, and rightfully so.
Yes, houses and businesses and lives were lost, and even though the mess was cleaned up, things won’t be the same for many of us.
They can never be the same.
However folks managed to recover from this terrible event, we must never forget that we still have each other.
The bonds that built our communities are still there and no flood can tear them asunder.
Editor’s note: This is a recasting of our editorials from last year, following the flooding caused by Irene.