As you know, when Hurricane Irene blew through Vermont, hundreds of our roads, bridges, homes and businesses were severely damaged or destroyed. Being on the banks (being THE banks, actually) of the Ottauquechee River, the Simon Pearce flagship store in Quechee Vermont suffered major flooding and sustained serious damage to its glassblowing, pottery and hydroelectric facilities.
Luckily their restaurant and retail store suffered much less damage and they recently re-opened.
We, at Vermont Woods Studios love to visit the Simon Pearce Mill and Restaurant, especially during these colorful weeks of Fall (that's Arn and Cathy in the restaurant– the picture was taken just before the hurricane). The Pearce family and their staff are an inspiration to us and a role model for sustainable operations and good corporate citizenship. Their business is a benchmark for the kind of destination we want to offer at our next location.
Check out the Simon Pearce website and Facebook to see the kind of principled company they have created. And definitely stop by for lunch or dinner at the Simon Pearce restuarant– one of the finest in the Northeast.
There are a few weeks of leaf peeping left in Vermont, so we hope you'll wander through our state this weekend or next. You'll find that almost all of our businesses have managed to dry out, dig out and clean-up in time for your visit. Your efforts will be greatly appreciated by all the Vermont business owners who are working around the clock to recover from the worst catastrophe the state has ever seen.
Enjoy your travels!
It’s been over two weeks since Hurricane Irene blew through Vermont destroying homes, businesses, roads and wildlife habitats. Since then Vermonters and good samaritans from throughout the region have been working around the clock to rebuild and restore the area. I’m amazed at how fast the roads are being rebuilt. Route 9 between Brattleboro and Bennington was ripped to smitherenes but, with the help of the National Guard and others, our incredible road crews have already gotten it passable. Shannon said she even got to drive on a newly paved stretch of Route 9 on her way in today.
But there is much work left to do. As with all disasters the news media moves on, but so many people are still in need of assistance. At Vermont Woods Studios Furniture we are trying to think of ways to help. One thing we are doing is donating 100% of profits from all furniture sold online or in our showroom this Saturday, September 17. If you have been thinking about buying furniture, this would be a great time to do it! All of our Shaker Furniture is on sale that day; we have 6 Dining Room Sets on Sale that can be installed in your home for Thanksgiving Dinner plus (how cool is this?) our donation will be matched by local employer Entergy-VY. Talk about leveraging your hard-earned money. So it could be a win for you and others– in a big way. If the promotion is successful, we’ll sponsor similar events periodically to continue to help out where we can.
Thanks for your continued well-wishes as Vermonters work to rebuild after the storm.
As Vermonters from communitites across the state begin to dig out of Irene's ruins and re-build, we are being joined by incredible good samaritans who have travelled here from all around the region and the country. We are grateful to you! Last weekend while I was traveling up I-89 to Plattsburgh I passed a convoy of some 370 National Guard members from eight states– here to help out with an army of helicopters, dump trucks and other heavy equipment.
Civilian volunteers are signing up on VTResponse to help people who have lost homes and businesses. In Wilmington, Vermont a favorite outdoor restaurant, Wahoo's was devastated by the flood, but volunteers rallied a few days later to clean it up. The owner, Adam Grinold re-opened 2 days ago and is donating 50% of proceeds to help flood victims.
Luke Stafford of Mondo Media volunteered his online media and marketing expertise to build a community bulletin board for South Newfane and Williamsville VT where neighbors can stay connected, informed and updated as they rebuild together. Our own Shannon Albritton did the same for Marlboro. Everywhere people are coming to each other's aid. It's what makes the recovery actually seem possible.
So to all of you who are reaching out to help, we at Vermont Woods Studios Furniture and our neighbors throughout the state, express our sincere thanks!
By Shannon Albritton
This is the second installment from our newest Vermont Woods Studios staff member, Shannon Albritton. She recently moved to Marlboro, Vermont from New Hope, PA and is sharing her adventures as she lives through the after-effects of Hurricane Irene.
On Thursday evening I attended my first Vermont town meeting. We arrived early and helped set up folding chairs in a semi-circle, “So we can all see each other”, suggested a volunteer.
More than 200 Marlboro residents filled the school gymnasium. We looked tired but seemed in generally positive spirits. We greeted each other and exchanged our tales of woes and Vermont-made miracles. We listened intently to our town leaders and emergency management officials as they laid out the next steps and protocols for moving forward in our little town, where 80% of our roads had been destroyed. A local farm brought pizza for all to share. The rate at which we devoured every last piece of this delicious, hot, homemade treat told me I wasn’t the only one who had forgotten to eat that day.
Following the meeting, I met Josh Stilts, reporter for the Brattleboro Reformer. He expressed his concern for the people still stranded down off Auger Hole Rd. I confirmed his concerns and told him my husband and I had hiked in earlier that day to check on friends. I offered to escort Josh down the mountain the next day via a logging road behind my home. Josh eagerly accepted my invitation and we parted ways.
Friday morning I waited on the grounds of Marlboro College to hear Governor Peter Shumlin speak about his plans to put us back together. As I walked into the auditorium I stopped, turned and there was the Governor right in front of me! We had just about run into each other. A bit star-struck and caught of guard I shook his hand and thanked him for doing a great job. “It’s the people of Vermont who are doing a great job” he said, as he squeezed my hand and moved forward toward the stage.
His speech told of the heroic acts of Vermonters and our resilience and tenacity. He shared that a reporter, who had covered Katrina and Joplin Missouri, had commented that he was inspired but the general positive attitude and community of the people of Vermont in the wake of that wicked-woman Irene.
Following the speech, I met Josh outside and we headed to the logging trail. I filled my backpack with frozen water bottles, granola bars and my solar shower for my friends “in the hole” and we set off to down the mountain. I’m not sure the actual distance, it feels like a one-mile on the way down and six on the way back up.
At the bottom I introduced Josh and passed my tour guide torch off to my friend Kim who led us further down into the Auger Hole. Kim informed Josh on how they were surviving and getting supplies. One man, thought to be in cardiac distress, had been carried out by several others the previous night and rushed to the hospital. They were not sure if he had survived but I was able to inform her he was in fact, OK and just severely dehydrated. “We couldn’t call for help so they carried him out”, she said. “We feel deserted down here, you’re the first people to come to check on us”. We continued our hike down the road turned riverbed once known as Auger Hole Rd. The very same road I drove every day to work when I first moved to Vermont. What now lies in its place is indescribable and pictures can barely do it justice. Picture an empty riverbed approximately 25’ deep and 30’ wide as a long as the eye can see.
A local man had grown tired of waiting for township approval and brought his equipment into the hole to construct a temporary road to free those trapped on the other side. His equipment appears like a tinker toy at the bottom of the pit. Josh snapped photos and took video interviews. “It would be pretty awesome if it wasn’t so tragic…” I said, as we stood staring awestruck down into the hole. We all nodded quietly and walked on.
Moments later Emergency Management arrived on the scene with cases of water and MREs (Meal, Ready to Eat). Will & Rory, stranded residents of the Auger Hole, loaded them on borrowed ATVs and stuffed them into backpacks. These guys were referred to, in Josh’s article the following morning, as the dynamic-duo as they buzzed over the rocky terrain to deliver supplies to the stranded homes.
Feeling better knowing that the people of Auger Hole were stocked with food, clean water and on the road to safety, Josh and I packed up and headed back up the mountain towards home. It was a long climb back up that logging trail and we had plenty of time and content for good conversation. I asked him if he had enough content for his article and he replied, “plenty!” We then walked silently for a while, reflecting on they day and absorbing it into our minds and our hearts. I disrupted our silence, “So what’s your angle going to be?” and he paused and then replied, “there are so many, but I think I will go with the survival angle, being isolated down there and how they’ve all been working together with the resources they have to help each other.” I nodded in confirmation and flashed back to Governor Shumlin’s opening comment during his speech earlier that morning, “First I just want to say, I’ve seen more acts of generosity, bravery and courage in the last four days than I’ve seen in my entire life”. Yep, I’d have to agree.
I read a quote recently from a Vermonter whose barn and porch were swept away by mean ol’ Irene, “That’s Mother Nature” he said, “And this is Vermont. We just roll with it.”
I may be a Flatlander, but if this is what Vermonters are made of, I am incredibly proud to be a Vermonter-in-Training
Josh Stilts’s article “Down in an Auger Hole” can be read online at The Brattleboro Reformer.
Kathleen Wanner of the Vermont Wood Manufacturers Association just called to let me know that as FEMA and the state of Vermont start to assess the needs of Vermonters, they are looking for input from those affected by Hurricane Irene and the floods, power outages, road closures and such that she brought.
If you have a VT business and have suffered loss due to the hurricane, you may be eliglble for assistance.
Contact Alex Ibey (802-828-5241) at ThinkVT.com or visit the Vermont Economic Development website to learn more.
Vermont Public TV has a great website with information for farmers, businesses and individuals.
One last note, our own Shannon Albritton who is stranded in Marlboro, VT where the roads have all been washed out, has developed a Facebook page for that community. Now residents can post their needs and offers to help each other. In just the last few hours over 120 people have signed on. I was noticing as I read through the postings that here, as in all the communities which were hardest hit, it's the generosity, kindness and perseverance of each other that's getting people through the disaster.
At Vermont Woods Studios Furniture, we been extremely lucky to escape most of the wrath of Hurricane Irene, however just 5 miles up the road in Brattleboro and indeed throughout our state the destruction from flooding is overwhelming. The storm itself wasn't so bad, but the rain! Some places received 11" of rain in a day's time! We've all been instructed to stay home the last few days while emergency crews respond, but today I had to run into town (to get pizzas for Riley's Back to School crowd).
I was sad to see that the Whetstone river is still raging through downtown Bratt and the Connecticut river is nearly overflowing it's banks. It's expected to crest tomorrow and that may mean they'll have to close Route 142, the main road into and out of Vernon.
Route 9 is already closed between Brattleboro and Bennington. Hundreds of other roads throughout Vermont are also closed. We have lost many of Vermont's historic covered bridges, some over 140 years old. The main intersection in Wilmington Vermont was a rushing river! The covered bridge at Simon Pearce in Quechee VT was washed out. No one has ever seen this kind of devastation here in Vermont. Irene has taken the lives of 3 people. The Red Cross has put out an excellent video showing the extent of damage in our area.
A few of our woodworkers have lost power, Internet and phones, as has Shannon our new Sales Associate. And the roof leaked into our office/showroom a bit but nothing catastrophic. No injuries, thankfully. We are hoping we'll be able to recover quickly and avoid delays but I will keep you posted here on the blog. Of course, you can also give us a call or send an email to check on status. As of now, there are no delays that I know of and we will contact you if we see any delays with your order. Thanks for your patience and support!