Hard Hit By Irene, Wilmington Spared By Sandy

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Some residents of Wilmington may have faced Hurricane Sandy with apprehension, after the devastation and long climb back from Tropical Storm Irene.

The region was spared the worst of this storm, but Wilmington was ready.

In the dark of early evening under sheets of rain and gusts of wind, Patty Murphy surveys Wilmington’s deserted main intersection.

Murphy, a teacher, lives on the hill above the village. Her electricity is out, so she’s come to visit a friend.

“I heard there was power down street,” Murphy says. "I’m only a mile out and half of us are without. I actually came down for a little bit of news, see how every body is faring."

Murphy says people took the threat of Sandy seriously, having been through Irene. They’ve been stockpiling water and batteries, cleaning up their yards.

"Everyone’s a little nervous, a little apprehensive," she says. Then she adds, "But prepared."

The center of preparation is the Wilmington Fire House. It’s a bright noisy space with a lot going on.

Ken March is the Wilmington fire chief. He says Irene hammered home the importance of planning.

Right now, twenty-four townspeople are taking the training for CERT, the Community Emergency Response Team coordinated by FEMA and Vermont Emergency Management.

March says a lot of people want to help.

"We have the CERT team, here for assistance with emergency operations," he says. "We have the fire department on stand by, and so far we’ve gone on two calls. One was a propane tank that was sheered off, and another one a tree on top of the house that involved a propane tank and wires."

As the night progresses the storm eases, calls for help are few and far between. Members of the CERT team and the Red Cross have set up cots at the Twin Valley High School, in case anyone needs shelter. But no one comes.

A few days ago, town clerk Susan Houghwout hired a moving company to move important documents to a safer part of Wilmington’s flood-prone office building.

"I couldn’t wait to see what the conditions were going to be," she explains. "I had to make a decision early. So I did. From now on, when we see something coming that’s of verifiable concern, this will be my action plan."

Houghwout says even though dangerous weather didn’t materialize this time, it’s good to get a little practice in before the next emergency.

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