Down in an Augur hole

Saturday September 3, 2011

MARLBORO -- Augur Hole Road used to be known as a fairly smooth, paved two-lane road, with a legendary long, sharp curve; and more than 50 homes dotted along it, between Marlboro and south Newfane.

Now, you can't tell where the road used to be. All you see, for hundreds of yards at a time, is what looks like an old dried-up creekbed that's been there as long as anyone can remember.

But until Sunday, that creekbed didn't exist. It was created by the historic flooding caused by Tropical Storm Irene, and memories and jagged chunks of asphalt are all that remain of Augur Hole Road, now. The violent torrents of water, and the debris carried along, destroyed huge sections of the road, erased the sharp curve and left the people living there to fend for themselves.

Kim McCormick, who lives near Augur Hole, said she's felt completely isolated and forgotten.

"No one's come to check on us," McCormick said. "We've been surviving on our own."

Because of treacherous road conditions, emergency personnel haven't been able to physically get to their location and had to rely on a sort of human telephone.

Two young men, William "Willie" Schroeder and Rory Lincoln, have served as transportation "heroes," she said.

With ATVs, the dynamic duo has provided the sole vehicular transportation for their neighbors, bringing them water and food and driving them up the steep, muddy hillsides.

Before Friday afternoon, the only way in or out was either a six-mile, three-hour hike or on the back of one of the ATVs, McCormick said.

"You couldn't get out no place Sunday. All we could do is walk out on Monday," said Augur Hole Road resident Robert Powling, who said he had to use enormous logs to build a make-shift dam to divert the water's destructive path during the storm.

One of his biggest concerns was for his animals, he said.

"I have 23 pigs, but I had enough stuff to feed em' till today," he said. "But I gotta go get em' some more tomorrow."

Powling has spent the last five days using his chainsaw to cut the fallen trees out of people's way. On Friday he was at it again cutting away uprooted trees, 20 feet tall, that had smashed into the sides of a walking bridge, bending it into something out of a Dr. Seuss book.

Powling was joined Friday by Tim Racine, who drove his excavator down into the ravine to begin building some sort of road for people to get their cars out and, if necessary, emergency vehicles in.

"There's quite a few people down here who couldn't get out," Racine said. "There was a logging company that made a road (Thursday) so I could drive my equipment down here and help these folks out."

He said he's been trying to get to the people since Tuesday, but was stopped by the town because of the liability of the uneven terrain, loose soil and gargantuan boulders in what used to be Augur Hole Road.

Despite the destruction and frustration by residents, Racine said he's been amazed by the way people throughout Marlboro and Windham County have been helping each other out.

"I had a guy fill me up with fuel on my way down," he said. "If he hadn't been there I might not have made it down here."

Schroeder said through the disaster he's been able to meet neighbors he never even knew existed.

"It's one big happy family down here," he said. "A friend lent me his ATV to help these people and (Powling) just gave me a generator to use. He could have easily said he wanted $500 but it's not like that down here."

Josh Stilts can be reached at, or 802-254-2311 ext. 273.


If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.

Powered by Creative Circle Media Solutions