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What a way to start the year.

The day of the flooding, I was finally getting around to the reading for class the next day, sitting on my friend’s couch and listening to the rain like any other afternoon shower.  Although we were warned, I don’t think many of us could have imagined the magnitude of Irene’s impact on Vermont.

A group of friends walked by as I was stepping out to go home after the power went out.  We walked over the main bridge, the water level almost reaching the top of the clearing below us.  We watched thirty foot trees roll down the river, their roots and branches scraping the bridge below us.  Bundles of hay bobbed their way through, along with propane tanks, refrigerators, and other things swept away from people’s property.  Eventually they kicked us all off as a safety precaution.  At least one bridge up the river was completely trashed and will cost over a million to rebuild.  Roads remain closed, whole section having caved in.

Even now, the river retains a muddy color, although it is back to its normal levels.  You can see how far the water rose as you drive around, a dull film of mud coating otherwise brilliant green summer grass.  The stuff is full of nasty things, we still have a water warning where we can’t drink the tap, a minor inconvenience compared to what some have lost.  You drive through Bethel and see houses with the second story on its knees.  Some people will be working for a long time to salvage their homes, others to restore anything that wasn’t lost.  For those who are in the area, please volunteer at some point if you haven’t already, or at least donate food or whatever else is needed.

For the most part, things are back to normal at the school.  Eventually, we will be able to drink out of the fountains, we will be caught up with the classes we missed, class gifts that were washed away will be replaced, maybe.  We cling to normalcy, even if it leaves some the greater damage and those impacted forgotten in the day to day law school rat race.  Probably the most tremendous part of Irene has been being able to see another level of community that thrives here, with hundreds of people stopping to help their neighbors and strangers.  Even if hypocrites in Washington wish to block funding for restoration, local support will remain to carry folks through this.



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