Eastern Addison County Sees Damage From Storm

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(Host) Other than some down tree limbs and bent over cornstalks, most of Addison County made it through Tropical Storm Irene unscathed.

Rising waters on Otter Creek have closed some low-lying roads, though the river is expected to crest soon.

But in the mountainous eastern part of the county, it’s a different story, as VPR’s Melody Bodette reports:

(Bodette) The towns of Lincoln and Ripton are used to washouts on the main roads that follow the rivers down the mountains. Ripton Town clerk Sally Hoyler says they’re used to detouring around Route 125, the main route into Middlebury:

(Sally Hoyler) "We went through two horrendous floods, three years ago within six weeks of each other. Between those two floods every road in town was severely impacted. So we know exactly what it feels like. So we’re just breathing a huge sigh of relief that it didn’t happen to that extent now. We’re really lucky."            

(Bodette) But in Hancock and Granville, it’s another story. The towns were without power for days following Sunday’s storm. Most roads out of town were washed out. Some houses have foundation damage, others are now surrounded by silt from over-flowing rivers.

But still, in Lower Granville, people have gathered to organize supplies.

"Chocolate !!!!"

(Bodette) Asah Rowles is stacking juice boxes and ramen noodles. She says the town is pulling together.

(Rowles) "We’re OK. We’re just helping our neighbors out. There’s a lot of back roads here, because up until recently there was no communication. So it’s word of mouth via ATV and hiking.

(Bodette) Rowles says the town has food, and now there are ways in and out of town, but they’re still trying to convince a fuel truck to make it into town.

(Rowles) "Things always could be worse."

(Bodette) Down the road at the Hancock Fire Department, it looks like a party. Bottled water is stacked nearby, and volunteers are cooking in the kitchen. Kids are riding around on their bikes.

But for days the town was without power and only had one shower. 

As utilities come back on line, many are planning for a lengthy clean-up. The roads out of town are down to one lane, bridges have been patched with dirt.

Joel Tid says he hopes to see a Dumpster come into town:

(Joel Tid) "One of our biggest problems is trash."

(Bodette) Despite the festive atmosphere, Hancock has been through a tough time.

Jacques Veilleux is the town fire chief. He says on Sunday, people were surrounded by water and there wasn’t much the 11-member department could do to help.

(Veilleux) "We started getting 911 calls, and the road washed out. So I wasn’t able to get back home. We tried to go rescue some people. We drove a bucket loader down Route 100, and we couldn’t get down through it the water was so deep. I’ve never seen it that high."

(Bodette) Veilleux says luckily no one was hurt.

In the kitchen, Leslie Blair is making coleslaw for the town’s nightly potluck. She was stranded in a shelter in Bethel, unable to contact her husband, for two days.

Finally she walked and caught rides back home.

(Leslie Blair) "So the bridge into Hancock by Tuesday was actually passable, and I found my husband walking down the street when I got there. It felt great. I was imagining having to swim across the river and singing, ‘There ain’t no mountain high enough,’ as I was going through."

(Bodette) Blair says she’s confident Hancock will pull together in this tough time:

(Blair) "Because of the community. And how people just don’t let it go if they know someone somewhere needs help. They make it their business to know how to get there."

(Bodette) For VPR News, I’m Melody Bodette in Hancock.

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