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Reporting and commentary from OnEarth editors and correspondents
So sorry, Ben, and thanks for sharing these astonishing images. I am south of you, in upstate NY (SE of Albany, just west of the Berks) and were were largely spared, though the volume of water was pretty stunning. Here's hoping that beautiful VT makes a swift recovery.
Thank you Ben. The devastation we see today will be repaired and replaced soon. But the loss of historical markers will live on only in our minds and articles like this. For anyone interested, New England's covered bridges were a very vital part of building this country. Horses did not want to travel over rushing or frozen waterways, so our forefathers built covered bridges in order to ship wagon loads of whatever. In their day these bridges were as important to the country as were trains when they came into being. Today of course they seem quaint to look at but without them, transportation of goods would only have been severely more limited.
Thank you so much for sharing the full picture of what is going on in Vermont right now. I was just in Quechee last Thursday. We visited Simon Pearce and the covered bridge. We were vacationing for a week in Southern Vermont, hiking and exploring the area. I am so saddened to see the devastation of these beautiful areas. My heart goes out to all Vermonters.
thanks for posting this, i have a heavy heart tonight after seeing this. hoping friends stranded in vermont will be safe. keep the updates coming. thanks again.
Excellent post, Ben. Please continue to keep us abreast of your findings... It's great to have an aggregate of all that's going on in our beloved state. Hugs to you up North! Julie
If youse Vermonters are so fragile that a bridge crashing down "damages your psyches," then you have my pity (not). Elsewhere in the nation people have lost their homes, their communities, their lives, their livelihoods...but somehow a decorative bridge insured for a million bucks, which will be rebuilt, is such a big tragedy it's getting headlines? This is the reason we can't make any headway on climate justice or fossil energy use behaviors. Globally people drown by the thousands in flooding events every year. But it's a psyche-busting tragedy when you Vermonters lose a freakin' calendar art bridge. You should be pretty lucky if the worst disruptions in "what I live near" are missing--but soon to be rebuilt--bridges, and threats to your ski weekends and maple syrup consumption. So as you all go to your Whole Foods or "co op" stores and spend ten bucks a point for organic whatevers, I hope at some point the angel of Wake Up And Smell The Future wacks you over the head with a GMO tomato. Let's face it--Vermonters have long assumed that the bad stuff always happens to others, and their privileged lifestyles will protect them from the inevitable. Welcome to the planet. Your money-gated state is not immune to the future.
Dear Philadephian, Perhaps you didn't read the whole post or look at all the pictures. People in Vermont have also "lost their homes... their lives and their livelihoods". I left out "their communities" because that seems to be the one thing Vermonters haven't lost, from the accounts coming out of Vermont the people are demonstrating the true definition of community and helping their neighbors in whatever way they can. This bridge was 141 years old and acts as a symbol for the devastation around Vermont, not as a depiction of the only damage that exists. Maybe you don't understand Vermont and Vermonters but a covered bridge to a Vermonter is the same as peaches are to Georgia, it's a symbol of the state. You mock Vermonters for their maple syrup and ski areas but those are major sources of revenue for the state. Vermont is a small state and relies on tourism, if you watched the news or even read this entry post you would see that the roads in Vermont have been destroyed, that means that with foliage coming, the tourists won't and that means that the gas stations will sell less gas, the restaurants will sell fewer meals and the hotels will rent fewer rooms. The people who work for these businesses will suffer for that. When the orange groves in Florida freeze or the dought in Texas kills cattle, do you mock those people for losing their sources of income? While there are plenty of second homes in Vermont, you will find that many of the residents are not wealthy and do not shop at Whole Foods. The fact that you have decided to belittle and kick the people who are suffering says more about your character than it does about the character of Vermont. With a lot of hard work and dedication that bridge will be rebuilt, as will the roads and the houses and people will return to ski and to buy maple syrup and to support a great state.
Perfectly said. Thank you.
Dear Philadelphian, A father and son who work for the Rutland water dept both died while inspecting the local water supply to the city. It's a small city and these two deaths will absolutely rock the community. If it's "fragile" to mourn the loss of life -- not to mention hundreds of homes and hundreds of small, community-owned businesses -- than, yes, we're "fragile." I've covered climate impacts, environmental injustices and human tragedies from Vietnam to Greenland to Brazil. I've seen it all up close and personal. And I can tell you that a loss of life in Vermont is every bit as tragic as a loss of life anywhere in the world. "Money gated state?" Vermont's per capita income is $20,625. Less than (gasp!) Pennsylvania! I'll say this: whenever I go to Philadelphia, I spend way more on everything than I ever do in Vermont. BTW--we don't have a single Whole Foods up here in Vermont. Your typical Vermonter can't afford Whole Foods grocers. (Those are for urbanites like you, silly.) You obviously don't have any idea what Vermont is like. And I say this as someone who has spent plenty of time in your fine city. Truly one of my favorite in the world. I have family in the Philadelphia area and care deeply about it. Such empathy from afar is clearly a concept that's lost on you entirely.
philadelphian, what a totally shallow, self-centered comment. roads have been washed away. people have been isolated. if vermont doesn't act fast, this situation could become dire for some people. it may look like its just been covered bridges but it's much worse.
Dear Philadelphian, Let's talk about bridges for a moment. You do realize that a bridge is a structure carrying a road, path, railroad, or canal across a river, ravine, road, railroad, or other obstacle. You might also be aware that a bridge is something that makes a physical connection between land, towns, homes, livelihoods, and communities. You might also even concede that a person might travel over a bridge to get to work, to take children to school, to get to the hospital if there were an emergency, to get to a shelter in case one's home were wiped out by (let's say) Hurricane Irene. So let me just ask you...what happens if the bridge goes? If you don't know, you should hop online and google around a bit. It took me under a minute to find out. It’s YOU, YOURSELF, AND IRENE. You’re stranded and guess what? That is not only a real bummer of a symbolic structure, but it’s a tragedy to you personally. You don’t have food, your kids can’t get to school, and you can’t get to work. PS: Your neighbors just lost their home, the town up the road is still underwater, and yes, people have died in your State. It’s Tuesday, August 30, 2011. Welcome to Vermont. That is the reality. One other thing, Philadephia...I’m not going to sit around and chat about this any longer with you. You know what I’m going to do...go to a meeting in my town, tonight, to find out what I can do about the loss that you think is happening elsewhere in the nation...lost homes, their communities, lives, and yes, livelihoods in my state--Vermont. What are you going to do?
Dear Philadelphian, Read and think before you respond. Vermonters have not long assumed bad stuff happened to others. You have are make 100% false statements with nothing to back it up. Vermont has experience many natural disaster. The flood of 1927 which was on the same severity scale as this one (or worse), it went from Newport down to Bennington, taking 85 lives and leaving 9,000 homeless, and 1200 bridges were washed away as well as roads. Let's also not forget more recently about the Ice Storm of 1998. Thousands were left without power or water in the dead of winter. No means to heat homes or have hot water and froze over 700,00 acres of land across the state. Might I add, there are actually NO Whole Foods in the entire state, do your research before you look ignorant. A few good things come from Vermont that you probably actually enjoy. Ever tried the cheese, maple syrup, or how about that Ben & Jerrys pint you just picked up? Not to mention one of the many amazing microbrews, Magic Hat, Longtrail, Harpoon, etc. That's right, not all Vermonters eat granola for 5 bucks a pound every day. We take pride in our state and its products. Our state may be small, but our pride is huge and we take pride in our historical landmarks and traditions, as should everyone. Think before you speak Philadelphian and get your facts right.
Obviously, you haven't spent much time in Vermont, phildelphian. While there are pockets of relatively wealthy communities here, many people lead very simple lives barely getting by in the best of economic times, let alone these days. Vermonters appreciate and respect the incredible beauty of the nature of this state, and guard the environment here - to many it's much more important than any material possessions, and many people do live quite simply around here. What should be understood is that in a small state with just about 600,000 people, many of those live down in the valleys, where all these roads and bridges, homes and small businesses are dramatically affected, with enormous economic impact. There aren't that many roads in this state, and if a road is washed out or destroyed, there are no alternate roads to go on. The economic impact is enormous. It's not at all a question of a beautiful, historic bridge being washed away - which of course is a sad event. But, those bridges have a real purpose, people need to cross those bridges to get into town, to work, to buy food. There are many people in this state right now that can't do those basic things right now, and it takes time to rebuild. Moreover, most construction projects in Vermont need to be done by November 1, as winter starts early here. Once snow falls, it's very difficult to do a construction project. Vermonters are resilient and will work hard to get the state back together, but it is tough going and any help, or even kind thoughts are appreciated. I hope you will reconsider what appears to be pretty heartless comments on your part, Philadelphian
I am also for "wake up and smell the future" for eco disasters that lay ahead for all of us if we don't change our thinking...but, I think you most of all, are the one who needs changing. People were born..raised..died in Vermont the same as in Pennsylvania to which you belong. They take pride in and love their state the same as you. Many do not lead privileged lifestyles and many have had not only bad stuff happen...but, for some..horrific. It was not so much the loss of a beautiful bridge that those folks were re-acting to..but, the whole situation in general....The reason we are called the United States of because of each states diversity and ability to work as a whole for the good of all. You have narrowed your view so much that you attacked the state of Vermont in its entirety. You did not identify yourself as a Pennsylvanian..but, as a know, the City of Brotherly Love...where everyone there is a gang banger.
wow, philadelphia. you are really angry. and misinformed. Sure there are rich folks who just love their syrup and ski every weekend in Vermont. Most of them come up from Boston or Connecticut to visit their second homes. Most Vermonters, if you check the statistics, are largely living hand to mouth. Not real rich folks. They hunt deer so they can eat and feed their families. Damage to their houses and businesses will set them back in a serious way. Not sure you've heard, but farmers aren't doing so hot these days. So when they lose their crops in a flood it has a real bad effect on them and thus the whole economy. You sound like maybe you're the one who needs to get hit on the head with a ginormous GMO egglant. At least you could check yourself and speak something more like truth, something more reflective of reality than stereotypes and postcard images.
When a Vermonter eats organic, he probably grew it himself. ;) I won't comment on how out-to-lunch your rant is about our "money-gated" state as others have refuted that nicely, but I do want to say something about our bridges. A covered bridge in Vermont means "there is a town here." The "decorative" bridge is how you get to and from the town. Your comments about damaged psyches and calender art make me hope an angel of Witness the Awesome Power of Nature comes and wacks you over the head with some cascading water. You're looking at a covered bridge and snerking about how quaint it is, and you never for a moment think about how strong a bridge must be to span a brook and remain in use for over a hundred years. Vermont floods every spring when the snow melts. These covered bridges were built to weather that. Enough water to pick one of these bridges up and carry them off? You're looking at a video and mocking the people crying as they're watching their hometown literally being washed away. All they can do is stand and watch because there is nothing you can do to stop water. Your self-righteous lack of respect for the power of nature looks really strange next to your supposed stance on climate justice. 300 roads and 30 bridges are currently gone in Vermont. Several communities have lost all their bridges and are pretty much islands until the water recedes. Maybe you'd like some of that "what you live near"?
Dear Philadelphian, I feel as though it is my civic duty to tell you how dumb you sound. It's pretty obvious you have never been to Vermont and have no idea what you are talking about. Not sure what you are trying to prove here but you look like a real idiot getting on this blog to try and make low blows when an entire state is in crisis. What's your beef with Vermont anyway? It's a great place. And it's not just a covered bridge you moron. Get off your fat butt in Philadelphia and change the station from fox news.
Thanks, Philadelphian, for making an entire region look like a bunch of jerks. No one said that a bridge was more important than human life, it was pointed out that a community symbol was destroyed in addition to the devastation felt across the state of Vermont. You are entitled to your political views, but airing them in this forum is appalling and shows a complete lack of compassion towards another community reeling from the affects of the storm. If you don't appreciate the green agenda that many Vermonters share, so be it, but don't represent your opinions as a Philadelphian, and don't throw these opinions as an 'I told you so' to many who are still contemplating basic neccessities this morning such as running water, power, and simply subsisting. Your post was in poor taste, and a poor reflection on Philadelphia in general.
Philadelphia, looking back at your well commented upon comment, what makes me saddest is that perhaps your anger about people's disregard for global warming is justified. And your anger about the news being obsessed with overdramatizing things rather than dealing with the real core issues at hand is also justified. But to take it on on vermonters getting flooded is weird. Sure some Vermonters have lots of money. And a lot really don't. (Sort of a slow economy because there's not much goin' on.) But I just can't see how you seem to think of Vermonters in general as self-indulgent privileged consumers who suck off a grid without any thought about their effect on nature. Sure there are enclaves of trust funded "hippie-types" with an attitude. But at least they are usually focused on things like how to deal with global warming! Regardless of the financial status of individuals, in my experience, Vermont is not a culture of consumerism. Most Vermont towns don't really even have but a few small stores. Seems to me global warming is largely caused by too much too fast and using resources that aren't local. Vermont is a lot of things, but an epicenter of privilege where people do too much too fast and consume consume consume -- not so much. People in VT very often grow their own veggies and chop wood from their own land for heat. Can't say the same about most places i've lived. Maybe it's partly because Vermont is not hugely developed, because the economy actually relies on local businesses (not the kind of corporate stuff that wracks up the big points with carbon emissions), and because people there aren't constantly distracted with consumerism that folks were so sad to lose historic bridges and buildings and farms.
Ironic that a troll should choose to focus on bridges.
Thank you all, who replied to Philadelphian. I have nothing to add but that I felt smacked by his ignorance and arrogance. I'm not originally from Vermont but I live here long enough to know that people here are great to meet and talk to and that they love beauty of their state. Is anything wrong with that? Of course that everybody is proud to live here, because it is green, healthy and pretty safe (not as criminal like other parts of US) state. Anything wrong with that??? Maybe people here did feel also safe from nature, because the most of abnormal what they used to get here was high snow bank in the winter? Something wrong in feeling safe??? Image of covered bridge being washed away in the storm brings tears just like all other images from this massive catastrophe, because it was a part of community life - not only in spirit - and part of the tragedy. Why are you so angry, Philadelphian? You sound almost like you were writing your message while opening bottle of champagne to celebrate: "Oh, these proud Vermonters finally got kicked in their asses!" Think about this, maybe you'll have some reflection and start see things outside the box. Regards.
Thanks for sharing these incredible images. Our home in Arlington was spared but the devastation there was also remarkable and tough to watch. I am posting a few links from the Arlington area. The first link is the covered bridge in West Arlington which is normally 10-12 feet above the water. The second is the route 313 Bridge by the rec park in Arlington The third is the 7A bridge looking down stream at the Roaring Branch (flowing down from Branch Pond in the Kelley Stand (about 1/4 mile from its confluence with the Battenkill. The fourth is in East Arlington where the Fayville Branch flooded best
Thank you so much for sharing these, Bill. Absolutely astounding footage. Time to roll up the sleeves and start digging out.
Thanks for the updates. We were actually traveling through this beautiful state for the first time and found ourselves on Rt.100!!! To make a long story short...we are now trapped in Killington, Vermont. We expected to be stranded on the Green Mountain Golf Course parking lot as that's the only place we could get to safely. But...we were rescued by a local couple that invited us to their home without a second thought. Thanks Gail and Rich!!! People here are the best and have treated us as part of the family. Cudos to the people of this state and this particular area as they have shown courage, bravery, compassion, and above all humanity. BTW...Billy at the Summit Lodge rocks!!! Thanks for putting us up,cooking for us and making a terrible situation just a little brighter.
I am so glad you are being well taken care of. I hope you'll keep us posted on your situation up there!
What a wonderful story to come out of such a trying time. We're glad to hear that you're being well taken care of, though honestly not surprised. Just another case of neighbors helping neighbors, even when the neighbors are just here for a visit.
Dear Philadelphian, I can certainly understand your consternation over the fact that one of the most largely shared images about the devastation in Vermont happens to be a covered bridge. While the loss of these historical bridges may not seem significant to people who live outside New England, such a loss is comparable to the city of Philadelphia losing the Liberty Bell, as it washes into the Delaware, or severe damage to the Betsy Ross House or Independence Hall. all of which I'm sure are insured for millions of dollars as well. The sadness Vermonters feel isn't because some "calendar bridge" washed away, but because those bridges are emblematic of Vermont history, and happen to represent only a fraction of the destruction Vermont suffered as a result of Hurricane Irene. As a very small state, with a small tax base, and low per capita income, the fact that many local businesses, roads, homes, schools, etc. have been destroyed is of severe consequence to the State. Moreover, for those of us who were lucky enough to have our homes remain safe from the storm, we are now in communities cut off from the rest of the State because of roads that look like the ones pictured above. People have died, been injured, lost their homes and businesses, in addition to a part of the history they've grown up with. We're not so sensitive (and I say this as someone who grew up just outside Philadelphia), we're just a small community trying to recover from something that's been crippling. Please consider showing some sympathy rather than criticism. Thanks for your comment.
I lived in Vermont for 10 years in the 80s and '90s. The tragedy in Vermont strikes a cord in my heart, as I view pictures and read stories of the devastation in my old stomping grounds. My heart and prayers go out to all there who have been impacted. Seeing the video from Quechee was especially personal. I spent many days during the summer of '89 swimming below the bridge while waiting for my girlfriend to finish work as a glass blower's apprentice at Simon Pierce. Occassionally I would summon the courage to jump off the bridge into the clear water below, but only occassionally. Even as a mad dog twenty something, that plunge took some guts. Seeing the the fury of Irene, with the water coming OVER the bridge really made it personal for me. Thank you for bringing the events of the past week home to us who cannot be there, but know what a special place Vermont is and what special people call Vermont home. God bless you all in the days and months ahead.
You might want to add this video - showing the power of the water coming through Winooski and over the Winooski Dam. A similar and more extensive one is by Eva Sollberger of Stuck in Vermont and Seven Days
In addition to the massive damage on a large scale-- lives lost, homes and roads and bridges destroyed, stores wrecked by massive inflows of water and mud-- there are countless stories of other disasters. Here's a video about how the flood affected a group of theater companies, inundating their shared space for costume storage. Costumes and props representing nearly 40 years of labor were flooded and the space is unfit for use.
I lived in Clarendon Springs for a few years and worked in Rutland. It's very sad what is happening in Vermont right now. As a current eastern Connecticut resident my electricity is not due to be restored until Tuesday the 6th, but I feel fortunate my home was left with only minor damage and no flood damage. Good luck.