Rutland celebrates storm response

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(Host) Many Rutland area residents are still cleaning up after the April 16th storm that pummeled the region with 70 mile per hour winds.

But local officials and area businesses are encouraging everyone to take a few hours off tonight to celebrate.

VPR’s Nina Keck has more.

(Keck) Steve Costello, of Central Vermont Public Service, says the damage done by the storm was remarkable – but what he found most extraordinary was the way the community responded.

(Costello) “There were a lot of people very scared without power. They’re not used to that in the city. And despite that people were coming out of the woodwork to offer help of all kinds, whether it was bringing a generator to pump out somebody’s basement or offering them a place to stay or helping clean up downed trees in the yard. It was just an incredible outpouring.”

(Keck) Officials at City Hall, local radio stations, the local power companies and lots of area businesses pooled their resources to thank the community for all their hard work.

Michael Coppinger, the new Executive Director of the Downtown Rutland Partnership says the result is a citywide party and everyone is invited.

(Coppinger) “When a tragedy hit this community it could have been a heck of a lot worse. But people remembered that hey, we’re all neighbors here and we need to take care of one another and really celebrate that.’ I think it’s a really great way to kick off the spring summer season and really get people feeling good about the community. So it just seemed like a real great reason to get out and have some fun.”

(Keck) Coppinger says Center Street in downtown Rutland will be closed to traffic.

Starting at 4:30 there will be free food, music and activities for kids like face painting and bucket rides in utility vehicles. At 7:oopm, the party will move into the Paramount Theater where several bands will perform a free concert.

For VPR news, I’m Nina Keck in Rutland.

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