Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Can't Get Here from There
It dawned on me today, about dawn, that my failure to post anything regarding our recent flooding out here might be taken as an indication that we are in peril. Let me assure those of you who have expressed an interest that my family and I are high, dry, and enjoying an oddly pleasant stretch of post-Irene sunny weather. Our little town of Dummerston was by and large spared any great damage, and our historic covered bridge - the longest span in Vermont - is still spanning the West River, which two days ago was within 6 feet of the deck. If you've seen the footage of some of the other area historic bridges that did not fare so well you will appreciate, as we do, the pessimism of whoever it was decided to place our bridge 8 feet or so above the 100 year flood mark. When you see a 150 year old bridge floating down the river you can rest assured you are having a 100 year flood.
Although Irene let our town off easy, those around us are not doing so well. There are bridges and roads out all over the county and the old Yankee koan You can't get there from here is not as paradoxical as it used to be. At the moment, and probably for the foreseeable future, our neighbor towns of Wilmington and Bennington are best reached via Montreal, Canada. Downtown Brattleboro is still digging through the muck on their lower end and I believe you can now buy mud boots at Sam's Outfitters with mud already on them.
I serve on our local Selectboard and as a seasoned municipal official of little or no influence I was alarmed to discover over the weekend we have some rather awesome powers to declare local disasters and close and open bridges. I'm not sure I ever declared anything before Sunday, but I found it enjoyable -- oh, and humbling. You're always supposed to say humbling as an elected official when you exercise awesome power. Closing and opening bridges is kind of fun (and humbling) too, but you can overdo it in a hurry. The townspeople took it upon themselves to move the road cones on the covered bridge out of their way on Monday morning, and they're pretty much driving around everything else too. If that's not a sure sign of being back to normal, I don't know one.