Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Aching for Vermont

I spent the first half of my adult life in Vermont; covered bridges like this one in Taftsville, a stone's throw from a dear friend's home, dot the landscape and form a vital connection between the hundreds of small communities there.

So it's been hard to watch the videos and photos coming out of that state in the wake of Irene's devastation; we just never expected Vermont to be even affected, let alone so hard hit.

As you might expect, we still have lots of very special friends in that part of the world -- in fact we hope to be visiting many of them soon, when we head east for my father-in-law's 90th birthday.  So I've been contacting them to enquire, hoping things aren't as bad as the news and youtube videos make them appear.

... and I posted some of the photos I've been finding on Facebook this morning, because I'd been noticing that lots of people didn't seem to be taking the devastation seriously.  In response to that post, one of our closest friends wrote the following:

"Over much of the state whole towns and businesses suffered major flooding and/or washouts, houses washed away, communities cut off by complete washouts of major arteries and bridges. That amount of rain in 12 hours over the entire state just overwhelmed the watersheds of all the secondary rivers. It's very sobering."

Sobering, indeed -- and definitely a reminder of the fragility of the world as we know it: how easily the balance can be tipped.  Life was never easy in Vermont: it can be challenging to make a living there, the winters are painfully cold, those charming old houses expensive to heat, and the summers there can be blisteringly hot and humid, with an unfortunately short growing season.

But it is also incredibly beautiful, and a lot of their money comes from the "leaf-peepers" -- tourists who tootle around the countryside in October to enjoy the glorious foliage.  Those tourists may find their travels considerably more challenging this year, and I'm concerned that income already taxed by this difficult economy may be further decreased by the dual whammy of unexpected repair bills and a dearth of tourists. 

As John Cage so often used to say, putting his fingers to his forehead on Ally McBeal (yes, we are still slowly working our way through those reruns) "I'm troubled."

When will those naysayers out there GET that climate change is endangering ALL of us?

The good news (despite one of the comments you'll see in the video below) is that this beautiful bridge survived -- but look here to see the battering it was taking -- not just water, but logs and propane tanks... it's going to be an incredible mess to clean up.


Maureen said...

Water can be so beautiful and so utterly devastating.

Some have taken the attitude that because Irene did not "happen in my backyard" the warnings were overblown. Anyone who bothers to take a moment to look at the devastation just from the amount of rainfall knows otherwise. And there were more than two dozen deaths over the states affected. It's sad to see the destruction. Funds are being redirected from other projects that need money just as badly. There is no good solution to the financial disaster.

May your daughter have safe travel and a good year at school.

Louise Gallagher said...

I have been one of those 'leaf-peepes' -- even saw this bridge and I am glad to see it survived.

It is sobering, and humbling. The force of nature, of water, of rain.

as the woman in the video says -- woooow.

Gaye said...

I am used to thinking of natural & political disaster in Africa, its my home after all, and not as really happening in the wealthy nations of the world. I thought that the devastated blank look that you see on the faces of those who have lost everything only happened here.

Irene showed how wrong I am. Americans might have resources beyond the wildest dreams of most Africans but loosing everything is loosing everything no matter where you are. I have been thinking also about the awful drought in Texas. drought is much more familair to us than flooding but it will be doing the same thing to Texans as it does to us.

I have prayed all through the weekend for those in Irene's path, as I have never prayed for those outside Africa before.