Vermont Town Devastated By Irene Is Moving Forward

Aug 31, 2011

In Wilmington Vermont the town is picking up after  the devastating floods of Tropical Storm Irene.  WNPR’s Nancy Cohen reports.

Just outside of the village center the remains of an antique shop sit on the side of the road. Only the roof is left.

"It came all the way from around that corner about a quarter of a mile."

Steve Amidon and his crew from  Furlon Construction are taking the building apart.

“Oh this one’s pretty heavy! Just cleaning up the mess! That’s all we’ve been doing since the water went down.”

While this building is being taken apart, others are being secured. Alan Chabot is with Alley Cats Contracting is boarding up a brewery.

“This was a whole bank of windows and they’re gone.”

Chabot says simple things, like getting wood, have been tough since  Irene showed up.

“It’s been quite a challenge even lumber yards have been devastated and if I didn’t have an inside track I wouldn’t be able to get plywood today.”

The Deerfield River flowed right through down town. Patrice Schneider from the Chamber of Commerce says on Sunday the flood broke a record set back in 1938.

“I’d say it was 7 feet . it was raging raging through town.”

“And if we were standing here then?”

“We’d be under water.”

Now the streets are muddy, but the National Guard is here keeping people away from damaged buildings and distributing water. Wilmington Selectman Jim Burke says he and other town officials are meeting in the mornings to discuss what ‘s next.

“Ideas that come in your head  at night. Where are we day at 3? We seem to be ahead of schedule.”

Because of flooding the fire and police departments have moved into the high school. As have the staff who work for the town.

“The town hall is flooded, in the basement oils all over. Our vital records upstairs they were saved.”

And people have been sheltered overnight in the high school.  Even though there hasn’t been any running water or flush toilets there there’s plenty of food. The town moved  pets to the humane society for the time being.  And the town of Wilmington is still responding to normal requests

“Somebody wants a marriage license. They got 200 people coming to this town Saturday for a wedding. Don’t think that’s going to happen!”

Burke says he doesn’t know if the license was issued. He and others are busy trouble shooting the basics, like getting people fed and sheltered. He says no matter what, in this small town everybody is coming together.