Mon, Sep 5, 2011 01:27 PM
It was a savage blow to Ludlow but the people of Ludlow
showed the strength to strike back at the flood created by Irene by
just deciding that they could overcome the devastation Irene
leveled at them.
While the adage "that you can't get there from here" may
have been true for the first several days after Irene slammed into
the area, the town demonstrated that it was only an adage.
With quick responses from both the public and private sectors,
washed out main roads were quickly refilled to permit
traffic. Not every washout has been corrected but the most
important ones, including some key bridge fixes, have been made
safe to traffic. Even the horrific washout at the corner of
Andover (Rte 100) and Main Street was filled by week's
The businesses in the Shaws mall, off Main Street, key to
the food, medical, and banking needs of the town, were severely
flooded. But, exactly one week following the storm, Shaws,
itself, has demonstrated that it intends to restore business.
They erected a tent this past Saturday with appropriate shelving
and restocked it that same day. By 7 AM on the following day,
they were open for business, supplying area residents with all the
basic food needs.
At the same time, the Rite-Aid drug store announced that
it, too, would be reopening in the mall in the following week so
that the medical needs of the community could be served.
Peoples United Bank never missed a step. Even as
workers were busy stripping wall boards from the inside of the
bank, the tellers were still helping people with their banking
needs. Peoples intends to bring in a temporary trailer to
house the bank while renovation work is going on in the corner
banking facility at the mall.
Further down Main Street, businesses on the river side of
Main Street, those hardest hit by the flooding, were in the process
of cleaning up the mud and debris from Irene. Some even
managed to reopen. Unfortunately, Sams Restaurant, further
down Main Street, suffered very severe damage and will be closed
for a while. The same appears to true for Panarello's.
Subway, which was hit by the flood, was closed for several days but
managed to reopen for the weekend.
The Ludlow Transfer Station changed its hours and remained
open every day to help residents and businesses get rid of
destroyed items. The station dropped cancelled all fees for
dumping in an effort to help everyone.
One of the fascinating aspects of the response to Irene
was how everyone used the Internet, particularly FaceBook and local
blogs, to keep everyone informed of road status, store openings,
help needed and offered, and answering questions from both local
folks and second home owners wondering about the conditions of
their properties. In particular, the FaceBook group called
"Rebuild Okemo Valley" was heavily used.
During the week Ludlow had visits from the Governor, US
Senator and Congressman, lots of help from the National Guard, the
Salvation Army, and just a lot of people willing to
Perhaps the best way to exhibit this spirit was offered by
DJ's Restaurant, a local favorite dining spot. For two
successive nights, DJ's opened its door to everyone for free
dinners. At a time when many lacked the ability to prepare a
meal, this was a tremendously helpful and charitable effort on DJ's
part. Even the waiters and waitresses turned over all their
tips to Black River Good Neighbors (BRGN) to aid to a voluntary
fund raising effort.
Not everyone has recovered from Irene. The folks
living on Meadow Street that borders the Black River have endured
cellar and first floor flooding of the first magnitude.
People with homes in the lake areas suffered horrendous damage,
some amounting to total losses. In the long term, probably
the biggest expense to Ludlow will be repairing the sewage
processing plant that saw all of its electronic controls wiped
out. Currently, they have restored the chlorination function
at the plant.
Over in Cavendish, while Proctorsville Village suffered
some damage, especially in the Depot Street area, it was Cavendish
Village that saw the greatest damage. Currently, Cavendish is
restoring public water but saw parts of Rte 131 washed out so that
it had no contact with its neighbor, Weathersfield.
Plymouth has just had partially traffic into it
Black River Good Neighbors has become the official site
for fund raising to support renovation and recovery efforts by area
residents and property owners. Donations may be made via its
web site, www.brgn.org,
via mail to BRGN, 37 B Main Street, Ludlow, VT 05149, or by
simply coming into BRGN.
LPCTV has also been named the official archivist for all
photos and videos related to Irene in the area. If you have
photos and/or videos of Irene that you wish to share for historical
uses, please send them to LPCTV, c/o 2011 Flood Archives, 43 Main
Street, Ludlow, VT 05149.
Throughout all of these disasters, area folks still
retained an air of sanity and humor, as difficult as it was
sometimes to find anything to smile about. The Cavendish
Players continued with their latest play, updated for the recent
Irene impact, this past Saturday. FOLA (Friends of Ludlow
Auditorium) continued showing its "1st Thursday"
movie, "Chariots of Fire", and the Ludlow 250 planning committee
still met to finalize plans for the 250th birthday bash
in Ludlow on September 16 and 17. The road to full
recovery from Irene will long, tedious, and expensive; but, based
on the first week's experience, it will be achieved.
All things considered, Irene had the unintended
consequence of demonstrating just how close and determined the
people of the area were - and are - in keeping their communities
together and ensuring that everyone in them receives whatever help
they may need to restored their property and lives back to
As a personal note, I have lived in a wide variety of
places all over this globe but I have never experienced the
communal strength and determination that I have seen in the
response to this disaster. It's a privilege to live in