Thursday, September 01, 2011

Vermont, and a hurricane story

I'm a little obsessed with the video coverage of Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene in Vermont. When I was almost 12, we moved from Providence, RI to Springfield, VT. I went to junior high school, high school and college in Vermont. Though I've lived in Kansas for 21 years, I am a New Englander to my core. Home.

It's hard to see home in such disarray. Here's a picture my friend Donn Cann took of the Cornish-Windsor Bridge a few years ago: 

That's Mt. Ascutney in the background, the Connecticut River in the foreground. This 141-year-old bridge connects Vermont and New Hampshire and was the longest covered bridge until 2008. Here's a clip post-Irene (I think this must be from the other side): 

You can hear somebody say that the river was a good two or three feet higher at the worst of it. It had better luck than the Bartonsville Bridge, which was swept away: 
That bridge spans the Williams River in Rockingham. I used to swim in the Williams River with a couple of friends after school on hot June days. Unlike kids in Kansas, we were in school until the third week of June.  The water was cold and though flowing nicely, it wasn't anything near what it was last weekend.

My family and friends are okay, though one friend told me it took him ten hours to drive what normally takes three and a half, due to closed roads.

Springfield wasn't hit as hard as some communities, but it still was bad. Here's a clip from somebody in North Springfield: 

You can hear the raw emotion in the previous two video clips. Where there's emotion, there will be stories. As the waters recede and people clear out the muck, they'll be telling those stories. 

I found myself doing that during Irene, remembering my favorite hurricane. Gloria hit New York in 1985, the year I was getting my Master's at Columbia University. I left International House, my dorm, on my way to work. I was about ten steps out the door, having passed a sign that said, "If you don't have to go out today, DON'T!" The rain was torrential. I turned around and went back inside. 

Over 500 students lived in International House. Only one-third of the residents were American, from graduate programs all over NYC. That was the only day in the year that everybody was home. We hung out, played Scrabble, went up on the roof (!), and generally relaxed. At the end of the day, the hurricane had passed, so a group of us went for a walk. The quality of the sunlight after the the storm was crystalline. 

Do you have storm memories?

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