Posts Tagged With: flood

A Bit of a Jam, Part II

When winter and spring duke it out they both end up looking silly, the dooryard fills with slush and streams jump their banks. Freezing rain gave way yesterday to sleet and ice pellets before turning to snow last night, which is when the lightning and thunder began. Another band of rain moved through with a shot of warm air and this morning felt positively balmy.

Fish in a Barrel Pond, February 25, 2016

Fish in a Barrel Pond, February 25, 2016

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Categories: Rural Life, Vermont, Winter | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

A Bit of a Jam

Going from a rainy 50°F (10°C) to -20° (-28.9°C) and back in a week must surely qualify as a Weather Event. Streams and rivers swelled, then froze, then swelled again. The ice sheet on the lake groaned as the water beneath it rose and fell but the spillway system functioned and the flow continued on its merry way downhill.

Not a Typical View in February

Not a Typical View in February

With dozens of tributaries flowing into the valley below, ice broke up on the river, churning in the current, banging its way downstream. Finally jumping its banks, the river fanned out on a floodplain and dropped its load. As on a conveyor belt, thousands of ice slabs piled in from behind and before you could say, “Robert is your father’s brother,” an old-fashioned ice jam had formed.

A Jumble of Slabs

A Jumble of Slabs

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Categories: nature, Vermont, Winter | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Quill Gordon Can Take His Job and …

The disappearance of Quill Gordon, shortly after Tropical Storm Irene, meant I was able to take over this blog for a while but it also meant covering for him at work. I met many members of the Neverwas Nonesuch Angling Society and the majority of them are terrific people. Some are even a lot of fun to hang out with. For a few of them, however, it is a wonder that no one has punched them in the nose. 

I don’t know how he does it, working from the end of April through the end of October — on call 24/7 — taking reservations, making beds, bailing boats, unclogging toilets, stocking firewood and all the other things that go into running an old fishing camp. Add the human element, in the form of the aforementioned members and their guests, and it is easy to understand why Quill Gordon seems a little tired and cranky by the time the leaves begin to turn.

One might ask how hard it could be, scheduling simple tasks like bed making and toilet scrubbing but, as I found out, there is a lot more to Quill’s job than toilets and beds, and few things go as planned around here. Every day brings new surprises and challenges.

Quill Gordon has returned home safely and wants his blog and his job back. He can have them. But first, one last post from me.

~Ken Hall

There was plenty of warning that Irene was coming and heavy rain was likely to fall. Quill used some of that lead time to make sure the culverts he maintains around the property were clear of debris and flowing freely. Even so, the amount of rain that fell was more than they could handle and one of his roads was over-topped.

Acres of woods upstream from the culverts were flooded.

Because the pair of 24-inch culverts beneath this section of road were clear, the water drained away fairly quickly, with minimal damage. A few trees brought down by the rushing water were cut back and Quill was able to move on to other projects, like chainsawing a path down the main road to town.

After surveying the damage in Weston — Town Office flooded, mill stream dam collapsed; back wall of the Playhouse imploded and a 1,000 pound piano flipped on its back; foundations and roads washed out; the village market and fire station full of muck, with all sorts of mud and debris everywhere else — the quick over-topping of a small road was nothing, and Quill gave himself a little pat on the back for remembering to clear the culverts.

As soon as he was gone, however, the beavers gave him the finger, or whatever passes for a finger on their stupid, webbed, rodent paws and, in less than a day, the local subsidiary of Nature’s Little Engineers, Inc. plugged the culverts and stopped the flow.

It was a hit-and-run operation, their workmanship shoddy. Quill said they hadn’t worked these culverts at all this season and I don’t think they expected the major obstacle to success they encountered, which turned out to be me. Continue reading

Categories: nature | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Five Weeks Later

It has been 38 days since Vermont was hit by tremendous flooding in the wake of Tropical Storm Irene.

South Woodstock, Photo by Victor Salvo

The damage and destruction were impressive to behold but the reaction by those affected was even more so. The initial shock and the adrenaline that followed have worn off and, mostly, folks are just plain worn out now. Volunteer crews continue to go door to door on a regular basis — finding people who might still need help — and the race now is against the approach of winter, which can be hard enough as it is around here. Most of an entire month has been lost, seemingly vanished into thin air, as the effects of Irene have been dealt with.

Weston Marketplace, August 28, 2011

Most critical needs have been met; most roads have been made passable, except for a few routes that might be repaired by December; most of those rendered homeless have been given more or less long-term options and most everyone is back at work, doing what they were doing before the flood. The pretty fall foliage did not put on quite the show everyone was hoping for, and the leaves are already dropping, but it’s still okay to come visit. Bring cash. Every counter in every store or restaurant has a donation jar to help this group or that person recover from the recent disaster and, I’m not kidding, we’ve passed the hat amongst ourselves so much it is time to take up a collection for new hats. Continue reading

Categories: Vermont | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments


My friend, Victor Salvo, made his way from Florida to Vermont shortly after Tropical Storm Irene spent 24 hours trying to erase Vermont from the map. During a break from mucking out our little village market, Victor had a conversation with Lyman Orton, one of the owners of the Vermont Country Store, in which Mr. Orton stressed the importance of letting the rest of the world know that Vermont was still here and open for business. Much of our economy relies on visitors to the state and, with fall foliage season right around the corner, people needed to know “Vermont is Open for Business”. 

Standing in a muddy parking lot, with an entire store’s rotting inventory in the giant dumpster behind him, it sounded at first like so much rah-rah from the folks at the Chamber of Commerce — and at first it probably was — but after a few days the village green had been cleaned up and a few OPEN flags flew again. Vermont was, indeed, open for business.

The process of assessing and repairing all the damage done by Irene still goes on, but there are many places where people now say it looks like nothing happened at all. That is a testament to the hundreds of thousands of man hours the people of Vermont have put in, along with some serious help from volunteers, government employees and National Guard troops from all over the country and utility crews from the U.S. and Canada. It also points out what can happen when disaster strikes in a place where every third person owns a chainsaw, tractor, bucket loader, back hoe or excavator.

Victor and I decided to make a project of documenting and commenting on the recovery efforts, and what started out as a simple search for OPEN signs amidst the wreckage turned into something a bit more. Victor set out with his cameras, taking pictures in and around Weston, Jamaica, Chester, South Woodstock and Bethel, Vermont. He captured images of wrecked homes and livelihoods, crumbled infrastructure and many places that will never be the same. He also took photos of people whose lives will never be the same, having been through a disaster of some magnitude.

Whether dazed and lost or just there to help, those people have gone through hell together. Many of them are still going through it and will for some time to come. With the exception of some of the people who came from far away to offer aid and comfort, most of us had never been through anything like this before. Not knowing what to do, friends and neighbors just did what they could and now it looks like Vermont will be okay after all.

Hotels, motels, B&Bs and inns are taking guests and more than one bus sat parked by the green yesterday while its passengers raided the penny candy at Vermont Country Store, so the engine of commerce sputters along (the leaves are lovely, by the way). Many thanks to business leaders like the Orton family for supporting their communities during a time of need and for bucking us up while we were down, and special thanks to Lyman Orton for sparking the idea for this project. Vermont’s businesses keep her economy rolling, no doubt about it, but it is her people that keep her strong.



Photo by Victor Salvo

If a flood came through, ripping walls from one’s house and filling one’s car with rocks, one might be forgiven if, when approached by a funny little guy dashing young man with a camera, one’s first instinct was to draw a bead and start counting. Continue reading

Categories: Vermont | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

Images of Bethel, Vermont (#2)

(The sixth part of a project by Ken Hall and Victor Salvo)

More photos by Victor Salvo, no words from me:

Photo by Victor Salvo

Photo by Victor Salvo

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Categories: Vermont | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Images from Bethel, Vermont (#1)

(This is the fifth piece of a collaborative project between Ken Hall and Victor Salvo, documenting the aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene in Vermont. It is clear that Vermont and her people will bounce back and thrive, in spite of the recent disaster. Other places, hit with their own disasters, are not so fortunate. Victor has been working hard, raising awareness and money to rebuild a school near the epicenter of last year’s devastating earthquake in Haiti. Please take a look HERE to learn more about Victor’s Haitian project and ways to support it.)

Millions of tons of water moved millions of tons of debris, at a rather fast clip, through Vermont three weeks ago. The people of Vermont (most of them, anyway) picked themselves up as best they could and got to work, cleaning and repairing what they were able and doing whatever was possible for their neighbors and friends. When it became clear that, no matter how spunky  Vermonters may be, local and state resources had been utterly overwhelmed, a disaster was declared and help came from near and far.

FEMA employees from Florida, Washington (State and DC) and many other places were sent by the Federal Government to assist. Red Cross volunteers came from Tennessee, utility crews arrived from Canada and several states lent Vermont portions of their National Guard. Tremendous progress has been made but much remains to be done. Roads and infrastructure are the most visible and obvious components of recovery, serving the greater good on a large scale with the assistance of massive machines, but another component — that of beginning to heal, getting ready to move on — takes place on a much more intimate scale.

The scope of the destruction, running the length of nearly every river valley, makes the efforts of humans seem puny but people helping people gives hope. Some of the images Victor captured last week stand on their own, needing no wordy embellishments from me.

Photo by Victor Salvo

Photo by Victor Salvo

Photo by Victor Salvo

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Categories: Vermont | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Bethel, Vermont, Two Weeks After Irene

(More photos by Victor Salvo, who made his way to Bethel, Vermont and the surrounding area last week. After a quick stop here to download images, Vic is on his way back to Florida to continue his work to rebuild a school in earthquake-ravaged Haiti. You can learn more about his Haiti project HERE.

Vic will also be continuing his work as a photographer, trying to make a living. You can check out [and buy] some his images HERE.)

Photo by Victor Salvo

In some floods, the water rises steadily, spreading further afield, into the fields, progressing day by day toward doorsteps and roads. During Tropical Storm Irene, heavy rain fell quickly, running down Vermont’s steep hillsides, collecting in and crashing through her valleys with tremendous force. The flooding triggered by Irene was more like a series of muddy, debris-strewn, miles-long avalanches that roared downhill like out of control freight trains. Continue reading

Categories: Vermont | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

They are Jamaica, Vermont. They Will Survive!

(Part 3 of a collaborative project by Ken Hall and Victor Salvo, commenting on the recovery from Irene in Vermont and raising awareness of Victor’s work with the ongoing earthquake recovery in Haiti. Part 1 is HERE; Part 2 is HERE. )

Jamaica, VT, Bridge Photo by Victor Salvo

The force of the flood waters that tore through Vermont almost three weeks ago was, to say the least, impressive. Rocks the size of refrigerators were washed, pushed and hurled, along with propane tanks, cars, and anything else in the way.

Photo by Victor Salvo

A number of towns were completely isolated when bridges and roads washed away. “Washed” is a bit tame; concrete and steel structures were completely dismantled and destroyed by the raging, projectile-laden flood. The old joke “You can’t get there from here” was true enough before Irene but in her aftermath it was a rubble-strewn fact. The Town of Jamaica was one of those places. Continue reading

Categories: Vermont | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

From the Government, Here to Help

(This is the second part of a collaboration between Ken Hall and Victor Salvo, commenting on the aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene in Vermont and raising awareness of Victor’s work rebuilding an earthquake-damaged school in Haiti. Part One is HERE.)

When the guy at the end of the bar yells at the TV that he could have caught the ball some well-trained professional athlete just dropped, I have the urge to say to him that no, no, he could not have caught that ball. It’s also a fairly sure bet the guy at the end of the bar wouldn’t do so well if he walked into his office one day and found himself confronted with destruction unlike any seen before, thousands of scared, battered survivors, and a memo putting him in charge.

I don’t know many people who can catch a ton of bricks. Continue reading

Categories: Vermont | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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