Vermont Fights Back from Irene

Ten days after hurricane Irene smashed into Vermont, our state is in the process of trying to rebuild.  While the Champlain Valley and northern Vermont was relatively unscathed, central and southern Vermont, the
A makeshift walking bridge allows access to Route 100.
- Photo by Lars Gange
heart of the Green Mountains, saw enormous amounts of destruction that will take months, and perhaps years to recover from.  Heavy rains that fell in just a few hours were funneled down mountains swelling streams and rivers until they became raging torrents overflowing banks and cutting new channels through roads, bridges, towns, farms, businesses, homes and peoples' lives.  Arial photos of the damage caused by hurricane Irene that were taken by Lars Gange & Mansfield Heliflight can be found at

As the flood waters receded from Brattleboro, Wilmington, Brandon, Waterbury, Richmond and so many other towns, neighbors and strangers alike immediately pitched in to start the cleanup and recovery.  National Guard troops from Vermont, New Hampshire and Illinois moved in with supplies by truck where possible and by helicopter where towns were cut off from land-access in every direction.  As of today more states from as far away as Ohio and South Carolina are sending in heavy equipment to help rebuild the hundreds of miles of destroyed roads before construction season ends in December.  President Barack Obama issued a federal disaster declaration for Chittenden, Rutland, Windsor, Washington and Windham counties so far, and assessors continue to work in Addison, Bennington and Orange counties.  FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, after leaving Vermont one week before Irene struck, is back to assess and assist both businesses and homeowners who have been affected.

Thousands of volunteers have turned out to help in affected areas and thousands more have contributed to flood relief organizations like the Red Cross and the United Way.  Vermont's rock band Phish is returning for a benefit concert to help flood victims. Workers from the Vermont Agency of Transportation as well as municipalities are working overtime to restore roads, bridges and water systems.

Vermont is still Open for Business

Charlotte Village Winery, Greenbush Rd, Charlotte, VT

There is no question that Vermont's tourism industry will be affected by this event for some time to come.  However, it is important to get the word out that Vermont is still open for business, especially in the northern and western sections.  I-91 and
I-89 provide access from the east, and Route 7 and the Lake Champlain ferries provide access from the west.  Lake Champlain is still a recreational resource unsurpassed in grandeur and beauty.  From Basin Harbor to Burlington and Grand Isle, folks can still come for boating, fishing, camping, and biking.  Excellent restaurants and inns abound with wonderful settings for weddings as well as other celebrations.  The Inn at Charlotte is within a mile of Mt. Philo, Vermont's first state park, that offers panoramic views of the lake and the valley.  For those who appreciate the "finer things in life" there is no dearth of vineyards and micro-breweries, like the Charlotte Village Winery,  Shelburne Vineyard and Magic HatJay Peak in the north as well as the village of Stowe offer more recreational opportunities.  Fall foliage season is merely a month away and should be as beautiful as ever.  And when winter comes and the snow blows, Vermont will still provide the best skiing in the east.