Vermont slammed by Irene; Middlebury escapes
President Obama declared Vermont a federal disaster area yesterday. Photos, video, and other reports show widespread damage especially to roadways and bridges along waterways. Governor Shumlin told the AP: “We haven’t seen flooding like this, certainly since the early part of the 1900s.”
Middlebury both town and College appear to have escaped mostly unscathed. According to the College Horticulturalist Tim Parsons:
No major problems occurred on campus. Facilities was busy with their usual leaks here and there, but it didn’t seem any more significant than another big rain. We’d spent a chunk of Friday mobilizing for the storm; gassing and sharpening chain saws, getting wet vacs ready, checking pumps. Monday morning dawned clear and fresh, and revealed a mid September amount of fallen leaves, along with a plethora of sticks. Some large branches broke in the wind, as well as having a couple of trees topple over. Overall, however, I was pleased with the relative lack of tree damage.
The town of Middlebury reported on their Facebook page: “Just a reminder to all that downtown Middlebury is open with no road closures whatsoever. All businesses, restaurants, theater, etc. are open and ready for business.” The lack of damage is remarkable as neighboring towns did not fare as well. Nearby East Middlebury was evacuated during the storm and the town of Brandon experienced severe flooding damage. The Addison Independent writes that Bristol residents are being asked to boil their water.
The College issued a warning via email to returning students (mostly residential life and sports pre-season students) prior to the storm. But even as repair work begins in earnest, students may experience trouble getting to school, especially those traveling by car up to Middlebury in the coming weeks.
The last storm of its size was in 1927 and sparked this tweet from Anthony Adragna ’10:
Adragna referenced the book: “The troubled roar of the waters: Vermont in flood and recovery, 1927-1931” to point out that Middlebury students worked as part of the recovery efforts when the last “storm of a lifetime” hit Vermont:
Perhaps no group responded to the calls for help as enthusiastically as did the college students. …Scores of young men from the University of Vermont, Middlebury College, and Dartmouth eagerly volunteered for work in other devastated towns. … [150 University of Vermont students] were replaced by 150 volunteers from Middlebury College, who arrived in cars provided by the town’s residents, driven over the all but impassable mountain roads leading to Waterbury. …Women students also did their part… Middlebury College’s women had been among the first in town to respond, holding a bridge party to raise money for sewing materials, and providing clothing for babies and young children.