Posts Tagged With: irene

Quill Gordon’s Obligatory One-Year-After-Irene Post

It was one year ago this week that Hurricane Irene was downgraded to a “mere” Tropical Storm and kicked Vermont’s ass anyway. Cowardly wench that she was, Irene didn’t stick around for what she had coming to her, and made it clear across the Atlantic before finally fizzling out somewhere over Europe, leaving us with nothing to do but try to pick up the pieces of our tiny, flood-ravaged state.

Photo by Victor Salvo

Repair and replacement of roads and bridges continues, though not nearly on the scale of the first few months, and here at Fish in a Barrel Pond we patched up what we hope is the last of Irene’s wrath just a few weeks ago.

The aftermath of Irene in this neck of the woods was covered in these pages for over a month and there is a tab at the top of this page that leads to a post with links to those stories, all neat and orderly, for a good look back at what she did to us. Most of the photos in those stories were taken by Victor Salvo, who in some circles is quite notorious. He is also an accomplished photographer and a good friend. He came to Vermont after Irene to help and to document what he saw as recovery efforts got underway. Take a look at the stories in A Project: In Vermont, After Irene. I think you’ll enjoy Vic’s work very much. You can also view some of his other work on his web site

One year later it is obvious that, while amazing effort and incredible expense have been put forth, thanks to Tropical Storm Irene, some things will never be the same. Continue reading

Categories: Vermont | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Answering Some Mail

(At the top of this page is a tab that reads “Contact Quill” which will bring up a form you can use to send old Quill an email. A few readers have actually used it, and I’d like to share with you some of the notes I have received.)


Dear Quill,

I subscribed to your blog, but this is not at all what I had in mind and now I regret my decision. How do I make the email notifications stop?

Signed, Disgruntled in Denver

Dear Disgruntled,

I am sorry to hear you are no longer gruntled, but how do you think I feel, having to look at it every darn day? Take a look at the bottom of your email notification; there should be a link that says “Unsubscribe”. Click it and follow the directions, and you will never again be notified that impotant pieces like “Careful With That Axe, Eugene“, “A Craft Project With My Friend, Eugene“, or “Eugene and the Dangers of Shatter Proof Glass” have been foisted upon an unsuspecting readership proudly published. ~QG 

Otter, Fish in a Barrel Pond 3/10/12


Dear Quill,

L.L. Bean’s very special Spring Fishing Expo and 100th Anniversary Celebration is this weekend. We’ll give you ten thousand dollars to stay away.

Signed, Freeport Chamber of Commerce

Dear Freeport Chamber of Commerce,

Your offer is tempting but, as much as I wanted to be there for what is sure to be a great weekend (including fly tying demonstrations by Don Bastian, a man with many stories that somehow involve him in his underwear, by the way), I must send my regrets for free. You see, I will be staying away for reasons of love.

My love of anglers.

I try to pretend I am an angler, just like everybody else, but I am not. I am an angler who, when others act on the urge to get away from it all, greets them when they arrive. I clean up after them when they leave, and then, on Sunday afternoon, I try to catch fish in a lake that has been whipped to a froth by them since Friday evening. I also take their reservations, which for the past month have been carefully regulated for fairness (only x number of nights per month, etc.). Starting March 16th, however, those rules are relaxed and anything goes. Someone must be here when they call, and that someone is I.

Freeport is safe this year, as I take one for the team, so everyone who can make it should attend. And be sure to say “Hi” to Don — he’s really starting to get the hang of tying those flies! ~QG Continue reading

Categories: Humor | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 18 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

Continue reading

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

Continue reading

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

A Collaborative Project, After Irene

(Quill Gordon is away, on assignment.*)

My name is Ken Hall and I live in the Town of Weston, Vermont, uphill and upstream from the village proper. In the wake of the recent disaster known as That Bitch Irene, I am going to do something different with The View from Fish in a Barrel Pond for a time.

Since Irene struck New England two weeks ago, the South has been flooded, parts of Texas have burst into flames, portions of New York and Pennsylvania have washed away and I just read that four million people have been left homeless by flooding in Pakistan. The media scramble to cover event after event, feeding our apparently insatiable appetite for information, disaster, and titillation, serving up portions our devices can process and our attention spans can handle. We watch for a while, shake our heads, thank our lucky stars and move on to the next bit of misfortune while those involved in the last one pick up the pieces, which provides the segue I need to explain just what the heck will be going on around here for the next little while. Continue reading

Categories: Vermont | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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