8.31.2011

Après le déluge

I live on a well-drained hill.  Consequently, Tropical Storm Irene was a big rainstorm (there wasn't even much wind) where I live.  

Less than a mile away, however, in the village of Waterbury nestled in the valley of the Winooski River, Irene brought catastrophic devastation as the river overflowed its banks and swept through town. 

Pink skies on Saturday night as the storm approached.   Looking west on Route 2
Noon on Monday, about 100 yards from the above, looking east. 
The Winooski River inundated Waterbury village, leaving a noxious layer of mud behind.  A heavy odor of fuel oil hung  in the air and there are health concerns due to sewage contamination.  
The water swept over the town athletic fields carrying everything away.  The white gravel is ballast from a washed out roadbed.  
As the mud dries clouds of dust fill the air and settles on everything.  
More flood images here.  This has been my closest encounter with large scale natural disaster, and it has been a sickening, numbing and shocking experience.  And what has happened in Waterbury is just one sad story out of many in the state as the full force of the storm was centered far south of here.

That being said, it's very saddening to drive through town and see sodden piles of people's possessions out on lawns and to note that that there is a steady procession of trucks loaded with dumpsters through town hauling the detritus of people's lives and livelihoods -- many small businesses have been flooded -- to the landfill.   I fear that a cheerless hard winter is coming and that many hard years ahead lie ahead in Vermont.

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