Turns out it was both a windy rainstorm and a total flooded disaster. I fared better than many, worse than some. I am more richly blessed than I previously mentioned.
Since this is my very own web log, I won’t spare the details of the last several days.
Saturday: I watched Irene tear up roofs, take down power lines and submerge coastal areas south of me. I was glued to various pages within the NOAA website, most notably the one about rivers in Vermont. (My property is on a river in west-central Vermont.) In between checking Hurricane Central on weather.com, I made all kinds of preparations and desperately wished my husband was not stuck in Iceland, unable to get home- and he felt the same way. The governor declared a state of emergency in advance and asked that Vermonters stay at home on Sunday. I sent that one along to various churchy people who might need to know, and lo and behold I got a call an hour later saying church was cancelled. Important documents, kids’ games, all the sleeping bags, etc. got loaded in the car that night. Then I began moving things around in the basement to minimize water damage. The fans and dehumidifier were all placed up on 5-gallon buckets. The major appliances were already on cinder blocks. Anything worth saving (food storage, mostly) got moved upstairs. I was in over-prepare mode. Lists galore were generated because I was beginning to get brain asthma from the stress.
Sunday: Indecision. Do I (and my four children) stay at my house until it’s unsafe- and thus unsafe to travel- or leave early and hope we’re not foolish to do so? An invitation to join with another family for a brief church service and early dinner was enough to tip the scale. It was as pleasant as it could be, under the circumstances. A call from my neighbor kept me up to date on the river’s behavior and I learned that residents of my village had been advised to voluntarily evacuate. I watched with incredulity as video clips of the flooding and road damage from around the state were posted on facebook. Power held out, I was in communication with my husband, and we had a safe place to sleep.
[Update 9/1/11: a video of the Middlebury River up in Ripton, about 4-5 miles upstream from my house.]
Monday: Bright, sunny, dry weather sprang out of nowhere and emboldened all of us with confidence. Driving from Cornwall through Middlebury, a few bearded men with chainsaws were out cutting limbs off trees and it was as if nothing but a stiff rainstorm had occurred. My street was flowing with water, but it was from each house’s sump pump hose as everyone tried to remove the water from their basements. I cautiously entered my house and it was very humid inside. My boots splashed as I stepped off the stairs in our unfinished basement and I gauged the water was 2.5 inches in that room, more than I’d ever seen there. Our basement has two rooms, and the other is a good 6 inches lower and normally stays bone dry in every storm, but it had that much more. Wow. After some documentation pictures, I got to work with the new sump pump and the trusty old shop vac, drying out the higher room first.
My power had not gone out and our phone service was fine, so I was able to get in touch with friends, neighbors, and family. It was also nice to see people all around our village talking to one another out in the streets. Everyone had a story, and houses up and down my street got basement water varying from damp to 3 feet. Some evacuated, some didn’t. The river spilled over its bank a half mile upstream from us and ran down East Main and our street, filling the intersection by the Methodist church. My neighbor said my backyard looked like a swimming pool, but by morning most of the surface water had receded. The water table is too high at the time of this writing to allow for a fully dry basement despite a day’s diligent effort. Total rainfall recorded in a bucket on my side porch: just over 5 inches, which doesn’t seem like enough to warrant all the flooding since we’ve seen that kind of rainfall before. Something about this storm was different.
For a treat, the kids and I went to the A&W drive-in for dinner, then we drove to Lake Dunmore for creemies (soft-serve ice cream cones) only to find out they are now closed Mondays. We drove back home and walked to the general store for some 2/$1.00 bags of candy (I got gummy spearmint leaves). The kids have been through a tough couple of days with some, but not much, access to a parent. It was so nice to do our regular bedtime routine, and very grateful prayers were prayed.
We’re still praying for Dad to come home safely; until he does, the affects of Irene will still be felt.
Epilogue: Q walked through the door at 7:30am Tuesday, August 30th. He ditched Delta, bought a ticket on Iceland Express to Boston then rented a car one way to Burlington. The hurricane is over.