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.