Storm Leaves Vermonters Stranded And Cleaning Up

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(Host) Tropical Storm Irene not only washed out roads and bridges, it left hundreds of Vermonters cleaning up or simply trying to get home.

VPR’s John Dillon talked with some of the people affected, and has this report:

(Dillon) In Northfield, the normally mellow Dog River got ferocious. Goldie Watson called 911 because she couldn’t get out of her flooded home.

(Watson) "The road became a river. It jumped the curb. I have a double cellar, it flooded both cellars and moved up to the first floor and it was climbing when they came in their scuba gear and walked us across yards trying to get to higher ground."

(Dillon) Watson wasn’t sure of the damage – or how quickly she’d be able to move back in. Downstream in Berlin, the Dog swept through a trailer park, leaving a reeking mess of mud and spilled fuel oil behind.

(Church) "That’s what all the trailers look like just like that – muddy water."

(Dillon) Fred Churchill surveyed the damage.

(Church) "Everyplace down here, you’re talking a foot of water inside your trailer anyways."

(Dillon) Southern Vermont bore the early and perhaps most intense brunt of the storm. Dave Moore heads the emergency response team for the Windham County town of Newfane. He says bridges are out all over town.

(Moore) The green iron bridge from Parish Hill to South Newfane is in the river. We do know that there is at least two houses that one of them is basically off it’s foundation  and it’s gone down the road past its neighbor’s house. And probably one other house in that area that’s pretty well compromised.

(Dillon) Irene gave literal truth to the old saying: You can’t get there from here. Longtime Newfane resident Tom Russell took a ride Monday to assess the damage in the West River Valley .

(Russell) "There’s no way to get to Stratton Mountain area or Bondville from Route 30. You can’t go through Londonderry. You can’t get to Wardsboro. Route 100 is washed out. People in the town of Stratton are absolutely stranded because they can’t get out at all because of the roads."

(Dillon) Transportation Secretary Brian Searles said about 260 roads were closed as the storm washed over the state. Major sections of highways were destroyed, including Route 4 between Mendon and West Bridgewater. On Route 100 in Moretown, a state crew hurried to block the road with Jersey barriers.

Highway worker Eric Austin said the Mad River cut under the bridge abutments.

(Austin) "Right here, right where he’s standing. All the way under that whole concrete section, there’s nothing underneath it. It’s gone."

(Dillon) The storm is already drawing comparisons to the Great Flood of 1927. President Obama has ordered federal disaster assistance to help with the state and local response.

For VPR News, I’m John Dillon in Montpelier.

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