The Mountain Times

°F Thu, April 24, 2014

Central Vermont's Most Popular Weekly Newspaper

Remembering Irene: Stockbridge

There are no fond memories of the destruction wrought by Tropical Storm Irene; there are still many suffering and waiting for promised relief and assistance. But we can recall, with pride and a smile, the many stories of friends, neighbors, and even total strangers who gave a 110% to help those in need in the immediate aftermath of that terrible storm.

As soon as the rains stopped, the Vermont National Guard flew in by helicopter to deliver MREs to the Stockbridge Elementary School. "MRE" is military-speak for Meals Ready to Eat, though some veterans might dispute that claim. The Dartmouth Hitchcock medevac chopper airlifted out some elderly residents who were in distress.

Once everyone in Stockbridge realized the enormity of the damage, and made sure friends and neighbors were all right, impromptu meetings, coordinated by Mark Doughty, were held in the Gaysville Post Office parking lot and people got down to business.

Willis and Harry Whitaker, Mark Pelletier, Dave Brown, Peter Steibris, and others devoted endless hours to making roads passable for emergency vehicles, and former Gaysville residents, Josh and Michelle Merrill, with the help of the Chittenden Fire Department, were instrumental in organizing deliveries to the food shelf at the elementary school. We all pitched in whenever a shipment arrived to bucket-brigade food and other essentials from the 4-wheel-drive pickup trucks and into the building.

Jenny Harris made runs to the pharmacy to get prescriptions for people.

But there were many stranded in nearly inaccessible areas of town who could not get to the food shelf for emergency supplies. My stepson, Jason Boyd, organized several people with 4-wheelers to deliver medicine, diapers, and food to people stuck far up Stony Brook Road and on the maze of dirt roads that branch off Stony Brook.

It only took a few days for the Maine National Guard's 133rd Engineer Battalion to arrive in a 38-vehicle convoy, and begin the task of reconstructing roads and bridges. What they accomplished in a very short time was miraculous.

Residents were forced to organize complex operations on the fly, and there were uncountable instances of selfless generosity and outright heroism following Irene that may never be properly recognized, but those good people know that the recipients of their kindness will never forget them.

Tagged: hurricane irene, Reflections