If Hurricane Irene had devastated New York City — as predicted — the story would still be Page 1 news.
Instead it destroyed wide swaths of Vermont — as no one predicted — so after a day or two, the media focus faded.
Not far from here — yet in some way, worlds away — in a state many Westporters call their 2nd home, the damage remains very, very real.
Karl Decker — who after retiring from a 4-decade career as a Staples English teacher has crafted a 2nd career as a photographer/chronicler of all things Vermont — reports:
People lost their homes, farms, fields and businesses all over the state.
Last weekend I was up in Ludlow (Okemo country). I saw 6 houses along the road, and people’s belongings outside under blue tarps.
Overheard in the Tysonville General Store: “Well, I lost the better part of my driveway. Never did like it anyway, though.”
And: “It’s times like these when the smallest favor turns out to be the biggest favor.” Vermonters have kept both their humor and their sense of community.
Vermont is now trying hard to convince folks it’s OK to come for leaf-peeping season. Inns are reporting huge cancellations. But he real major job is to get roads and bridges fixed before snow flies — and that could be in 6 to 8 weeks.
Many Westporters have a long love affair with Vermont. It’s a kinder, gentler version of a New England place Westport once might have been, but certainly is not now.
We go there to ski, snowboard, leaf-peep, hike, relax, and regain our sanity.
Now it’s our turn to give something back to Vermont. Pass the word: Vermont needs us. We can go there, spend money there, tell friends and relatives it’s open for business.
We can return the big favor Vermont has given us, in our own small ways.
Meanwhile, let’s remember: If the only thing we worry about, post-Irene, is a sea wall, we’re in pretty good shape.
(Westporter Selda Fikret Pasa is continuing her collection of children’s ski equipment and gear — in good condition — an important project to help Vermont kids. It can be dropped off at 29 Otter Trail by this Saturday, October 1. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.)