Cover

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pp. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-9

Contents

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pp. ix-x

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Preface

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pp. xi-xiv

Every book has a story behind it. The idea for this book came as I rode my mountain bike home from Pittsfield, Vermont, at the end of August 2011. And it wasn’t a pleasure ride. ...

Part I: The Storm

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1 | Flash Flood

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pp. 3-8

From the moment they saw the cute house in Pittsfield, Vermont, Heather Grev and Jeremy “Jack” Livesey knew they wanted to live there. It was a classic little square house with two stories, white clapboards, and a green tin roof—the kind of picture-perfect house a child might draw. ...

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2 | Irene's Trip to Vermont

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pp. 9-21

Hurricane Irene was born on August 15, 2011, a tropical wave in the warm Atlantic waters off the west coast of Africa. As the wave tracked west at about twenty miles per hour along a line just north of the equator, it was a well-defined weather disturbance on satellite images. ...

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3 | Not Just a Rainstorm

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pp. 22-37

On the morning of Sunday, August 28, Tropical Storm Irene seemed to many in Vermont like an overblown rainstorm. Compared with summer thunderstorms, which can dump several inches of rain in a couple of hours (on July 8, 1914, for example, eight to twelve inches of rain fell in Jericho, Vermont, ...

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4 | All Hell Breaks Loose

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pp. 38-54

When it comes to natural disasters, Vermont is fairly lucky. The state experiences very few tornadoes. Winds rarely top fifty miles per hour in the valleys. Summertime temperatures infrequently hit 100 degrees. And earthquakes—if they are felt—do little more than rattle the china cabinet. ...

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5 | Unheralded Devastation

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pp. 55-66

As Irene pummeled Vermont, towns from Bennington and Brattleboro in the south to Waterbury in the north saw their worst flooding since 1927—or in southeastern Vermont, since 1938. Throughout the state, official reports showed that Irene had unleashed more than seven inches of rain, ...

Part II: The Rescue

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6 | You Can't Get There From Here

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pp. 69-97

Vermonters awoke Monday morning—if they had slept at all— to a calm blue sky. It was as if Mother Nature were trying to make up for her foul temper the previous day when, in a full-on rage, she had gouged her nails into the landscape and swiped her arms across the furnishings. ...

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7 | Digging Out

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pp. 98-109

By virtue of topography, roads in Vermont tend to follow river valleys, particularly in the mountains. The roads often follow ancient routes first cut by wildlife, then Native Americans and the early Colonial and British military. When those groups needed to traverse the mountains, they sought the easiest grade into the steep terrain, ...

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8 | Vermont Ingenuity and Volunteerism

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pp. 110-128

By Tuesday, government officials had a better sense of the state of the state. And the numbers were staggering. At least a portion of every highway in Vermont, except for I-89 and I-91, was closed—with a total of 146 separate state road segments washed out or collapsed, and 531 total miles (a quarter of the network) closed. ...

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9 | Getting Around

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pp. 129-143

By Wednesday morning, people living in twelve of the thirteen isolated towns had an escape route. Not for high-speed traffic: many of the repaired roads were dirt and only one lane wide, with steep drop-offs on at least one side. Locals were advised that the roads were for emergency crews only, ...

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10 | Onward

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pp. 144-170

When outside help reached Montpelier after the 1927 flood, Vermont governor John E. Weeks reportedly said, “Vermont can take care of its own” (though according to D. P. and N. R. Clifford, in their book “The Troubled Roar of the Waters”: Vermont in Flood and Recovery, that phrase did not become part of flood lore until well after 1927). ...

Part III: The Recovery

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11 | Vermont was Lucky

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pp. 173-183

In some ways, Vermont was lucky. Long before Hurricane Irene swirled into the state, the storm’s winds had lost their punch, and she was downgraded to a tropical storm. Trees came down, but wind did not cause the damage many had feared it would. Also, the storm could have hit on a weekday, when people were at work in far-off towns, ...

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12 | The Human Toll

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pp. 184-206

Wallace Stegner once said that he was attracted to Vermont because “it heals.” A Pulitzer Prize–winning author known as the “dean of Western writers,” Stegner grew up in Montana, Utah, and Saskatchewan, and taught writing at Stanford University in California for twenty-six years. ...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. 207-208

This book was made possible thanks to the scores of Vermonters who were willing to share their lives and Irene experiences, often in heartbreaking detail. Most people mentioned in this book did not want to be singled out for any heroics, and across the board, they all would much rather have continued working than talk about their work. ...

Images

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pp. 224-239

Appendix

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pp. 209-212

Bibliography

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pp. 213-216

A Note from the Publisher

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pp. 248-249