Irene Damage in Vermont Forces Reconstruction, Restoration and for us, Rerouting

The morning we left Ashburnham, MA was foggy and I got not a single picture of the beautiful Maquire House and its view of Mt. Monadnock above Lake Naukeag.  On our journey to meet Charles, Devin had a route planned through Vermont avoiding interstates and passing through small stone towns that might have been home to Emily Dickens or Louisa May Alcott.  We crossed old iron bridges with swollen rivers rushing underneath.  As we pass through Woodstock, Bridgewater and White River Junction, we begin to notice damage left from Hurricane Irene that makes corn stalks chest high in water look like rain puddles (the damage I’d seen on my way to Devin had been while passing through southern New York in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area–the extent corn stalks in four and a half feet of water).  First we see three boys in their underwear standing in a knee high current.  They are alone, under twelve, and there is no adult, no car, no triage of bicycles spilled in the gravel beside the road.  A half mile on and we see the cones, the yellow and orange skid loaders scooping gravel and debris and chunks of asphalt out of the river beside Route 4.  In many places the guard rail is gone, crumbled like framing wire under the weight of fallen road.  We joke about the most efficient DOT crews we’ve ever seen (no one standing around) and then realize why.  Every quarter mile there is a crew, backhoe and bobcat and dump trucks with fresh gravel to build up the roadside that has been swept away by the flooding.  Between road crews is the wreckage left behind–trucks turned bottoms up and lying in front yards, an entire barn roof–its base ripped from beneath it.  House gutted and jacked on cinder blocks, foundations crumbled causing porch roofs and entire walls to cave.  A yard of cooling racks full of drying objects, a roof covered in oriental rugs.  It would be nice to stop, to offer help where it is needed.  I feel guilty to have been laughing and singing to the radio five minutes before.  But six days after the hurricane came through most of the area’s inhabitants are gone–those left are the excavators and contractors and DOT crews called in to rebuild and restructure.

Near Rutland we are turned around and forced to reroute–an entire road is gone rendering our route impassable.  The next road is closed and barricaded too so we go all the way back to White River Junction.  We see wreckage from another angle.  A grassy green park full of boulders left behind by the flooded rocky river, an uprooted tree wedged between the guard rail of a concrete bridge.  More trees held up by sagging power lines and an entire wooden bridge, maybe 45 feet long on its side against the river bank 300 yards from its foundation.

Our backtrack and reroute forces us to the interstate and we follow it all the way to Burlington to catch the ferry across Lake Champlain into New York.  By 4 pm we make it to Saranac Lake, just in time to hit the water with Charles for his last parasailing tour of the summer.




Advertisements

One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Donn on September 8, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    Great blog, pictures are a reminder of how precious life is and how quickly things can change. I am moved by your pictures and am excited about the days/adventures ahead of you and reading about them.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: