The wind came howling through the valley at 2:20AM followed by a hard rain. My heart went thud at these sounds as with morning light came a 30″ truck we had been given by LandAir Express out of Burlington to fill with warm outerwear for people recovering from Sandy’s wrath. I pictured locals stopping by the parking lot to deliver what they had removed from their closets and cleaned for the trip south … in the freezing rain. We only had this one shot, and we wanted it to be good. We had survived Irene with lots of outside help, and it meant a lot to us to help these guys.
There it is. The big cold dark spot in NJ and NY where thousands of displaced people are battling the cold.
Well the morning light did come hours later, and in the dark I had made mental notes about where to find a few pop up tents to keep things dry, and where to get tables to keep clothes off the ground while we sorted into the big bins that would be shrink-wrapped and sent south to the National Guard on Staten Island for distribution.
People here were generous beyond belief. Bags large and small started coming into the parking lot delivered by friends we knew or shortly would know. Twice vans arrived from clothing stores filled with coats still tagged for sale. One sweet lady knitted a dozen warm soft hats to send, another came with just two precious spare hats. Everyone cared. The truck began to fill from the front to the back with warmth.
Many people stopped by for periods of time to help with the sorting. We are an infectious lot when we get fired up. The truck driver got into it with us and never stopped helping, even though his day was the longest as he had the drive the truck on either side of a hard working day.
This is our beloved valley though, home of Sugarbush and Mad River Glen, hiking, soaring. ski joring, music, food & the arts, and 35 hundred of us who will always rally for our neighbors. The party was on in that cold parking lot by Shaws. For 7 hours we packed the truck, hugged our friends, laughed at each other and kept sending the warmth south. We all had a great day, and the best part is that I believe that we really did make a small dent in helping. This is who we are, we couldn’t have done anything else.
I can’t wrap my mind around the whole solution down there, but you can count on the fact that the next time we get a good idea of how to help, we will do that too.
The Mad River Valley in Vermont is an endlessly interesting community. I have lived here for 40 years now and never ceased to be surprised by the ingenuity, creativity and generosity that abounds, especially in crisis. We learned the hard way about vengeful weather when hurricane Irene ripped through our towns, and while we lucked out on Sandy’s rage, we do understand what it is like to recover from such trauma. We saw it on a micro scale by the numbers, but then Vermont is not a numbers state. One person to another we all got what this means to the people on the coast. We have lent our power repair guys in their trucks, and the phone company sent theirs as well. For the rest of us normal people though we do what we can.
The network started humming and suddenly we were given a truck and driver from LandAir Express in Burlington. Someone figured out a method to handle distribution when the truck arrives on Staten Island, which we learned the hard way is a serious issue. Telecom, our local ISP among other things has offered to bring a dumpster full of cardboard boxes to the site where locals can sort by size and then pack up all of the things that we have learned will be needed. It is a short list of things that we are allowed to send for distribution, but valley wide you can hear washers and dryers running with people emptying closets and getting ready to pack the south bound truck on Tuesday.
This is one thing going on, but the truth is that in Vermont, filled as it is with independent minded people, groups are forming to tackle all the facets of this recovery. I know of at least a dozen different approaches to assistance, all of them important and everyone bringing whatever resources and skills they have into play.
For me, the party is on Tuesday at our local Shaws but I have learned that the need for assistance will last for months. We need to develop regular deployments of people and property to the area until everyone is once again safe and warm. Please let me know if you have a good idea and need help implementing it. You can post your thoughts and ideas here http://www.facebook.com/WelcomeToTheValley which is a community of local and out of state people interested in participating in all things going on around here. Together we can really make a dent in the damage done.
We are Vermont Strong.
At 6 AM I woke to the sound of a roaring incoming train. Wind. My small dog jumped onto the bed and tunneled under the covers like a nervous child. Suddenly rain hit my house like a fire hose and the 120′ tall pine seen through the sky light in my bedroom leaned at an alarming angle. My neighbor turned on an outside light reflecting through the dark on my bedroom wall. Ok, power still on. It was like being inside a Cuisinart for 20 minutes, then unnervingly still as if someone had thrown the “off” switch. Brightness began in the east.
Since that time about every 75-90 minutes we get hammered with rain and gusts of wind. As long as the river has a bit of time to drain between these bouts it will probably stay where it is. By mid morning it seems as if we have dodged a bullet here in the Mad River Valley. Statewide we are told that all the roads are open. While I am sure there is damage in small parts that we have not heard about yet, over all we have lucked out.
In my small part of the world all seems well for the moment. As is typical for those of us who understand the horror of the effects of a flood a notice went out from our still active Mad-River-Valley-Hurricane-Irene facebook page posted this:
As the New York Region begins to clean up, they are collecting information from willing volunteers. This is the message from NYC Service on how to help: “There will be various ways to volunteer to help in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy – Want to Volunteer? Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, email address and borough. There will be ways to volunteer today and over the next week as opportunities arise.
Will post again when I venture out. Praying for safety for those on lower ground.