40 Minutes

Before I had 8 feet of water in my office and 4 feet in my home, I never fully understood what it’s like to lose everything. I was always as supportive as I could be to friends in need, but until the Irene Flood, my true understanding of loss was very limited and almost disconnected from the emotional weight of such tragedy. Then, August 28, 2011 suddenly my life changed.

Originally I was entertained by the storm. It seemed big and exciting, but the concept of disaster looming wasn’t fully realized. Then within a 40 minute window our already flooded driveway rose 5 feet and we saw significant debris floating down stream. My gut felt hallow as I watched the waters rise into my office and before I could think, I was frantically moving what valuables I could to higher ground and packing an overnight bag before wading through knee deep flood waters to safety.

After finally finding refuge at a neighbors house and narrowly avoiding being evacuated again, I spent a sleepless Sunday night monitoring Facebook for information and pictures, and pondering what I would see when I went home, what I’d saved, what I didn’t save.

Monday when the sun rose, the town seemed to slowly crawl out of hiding, into the muddied streets. Wide-eyed and drop-jawed we slipped our way back home only to find high water marks clearly stamped on buildings and trees at eye level and higher. Our belongs were spread around our homes as if they were in a life-size snow globe gone wrong. And the new realization of what it’s like to lose everything finally struck me like a baseball bat to the stomach.

But after some tears came the arms, shoulders and shovels of our neighbors and the clean up efforts rolled into town just as quickly as the waters did the day before. Now, over three months later, progress is evident. Flood victims have mostly regained control of their lives and with a fresh coating of snow, things almost seem normal. But the recovery is nowhere near complete. Irene’s signature will likely be on the town of Moretown and the whole state of Vermont for years to come. With the continued aid of our friends, family and community, the rebuilding pushes forward, slowly but surely.

The Moretown Artisans’ Wet Paint Fund is just one way that you can help people affected by the Irene Flood.  You can purchase t-shirts, bid on items in our silent auction or donate directly to the fund this weekend at the Moretown Artisans’ Sale. All proceeds will go to artists whose businesses were damaged. Thank you in advance for supporting local artists!

Below is a look at some before and after photos of the damage to my home and office right in the middle of Moretown Village, just an example of the widespread damage seen across the state. A complete slideshow will be playing at the Moretown Artisans’ Sale, but you can get a really good idea of the damage from these.

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