The Mountain Times

°F Thu, April 24, 2014

Central Vermont's Most Popular Weekly Newspaper

Reflections from Rutland to Killington and many towns inbetwee

The Rutland Chamber of Commerce was untouched by the storm so we all arrived at work first thing the next day. We began to play a role as soon as we turned on the phones and they didn't stop ringing. We decided to stay open for the weekend so that people would not get a voicemail but instead get one of us that could help. So we were open every day for two weeks. We were best set up to communicate information to the public. Our staff began fielding phone calls for assistance and connecting people with emergency services and information. We utilized our website (rutlandvermont.com) to link to information and assistance. We were on Facebook immediately and 24/7. This resulted in 40,000 post views in the month of September. A staggering number. And we arranged and held a significant meeting at the Chamber with the Mayor and the Governor and national media to discuss tackling priorities; opening US Route 4 and restoring Rutland drinking water (a potentially huge crisis in the making). The Governor publicly committed to both that day and accomplished both.

Another vivid memory is my sortie with US Representative Peter Welch. Led by a Vermont State Trooper into areas the public was not yet allowed to go, we visited Killington and Pittsfield. In Killington we met with Troopers at the Vermont State Police Mobile Command Center on the Kilington (Access) Road and we visited the volunteers at the Town of Killington's Command Center above the KFD and at the school where supplies were gathered. We filled the Congressman's Subaru with baby diapers, wipes, baby food etc. desperately needed in Pittsfield. We slowly made our way up Route 100 where we met with a tearful Brian Halligan who's entire home was now in the river.

We also had an amazing encounter with the school kids in Pittsfield that were having class outside on the green. The children's resilience and positive attitudes were lessons for us all in the face of adversity. We were amazed at how happy and excited they were to see US Rep. Welch and share their stories about the helicopters airlifting in their food.

It is an emotional roller-coaster for me. As I reflect back on this tragedy I will never forget how we all pulled together yet I remained saddened by our local loss of life with Micheal J. Garofano and his son Micheal G. Garofano (my neighbors) swept away in Mendon as they tried to protect the City water. And I remain saddened and by the long term lose of property, personal belongings and personal wealth of people that worked hard and that, in many respects, now have to start all over.

Tagged: Hurricane Irene, rutland, Reflections