Green Mountains Blues

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.

Route 4, between Killington and Mendon, VT. (Photo/Lars Gange and Mansfield Heliflight)

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 for more information.)

A snowmobile bridge near Waterbury, Vermont. (Photo/Lars Gange and Mansfield Heliflight)

6 responses to “Green Mountains Blues

  1. Thanks, Dan. As a Staples graduate whose roots are now firmly and forever buried in northern Vermont, I have strong ties to both communities. The foliage has never been so brilliant–heightened, I’m convinced, by the resilience and spirit of my fellow-Green Mountain denizen. Yes, folks should by all means come visit. We are, indeed, open, accessible, welcoming, and the peeping is more rewarding than ever. Jon Gailmor, Staples ’66

  2. The Dude Abides

    Indeed, my family has had commercial property up in Orleans County for over a century. It was not exactly a booming economy before the storm hit but I have full faith that the toughness of the Green Mountain staters will prevail and hopefully, like Japan, Irene will be a blessing in disquise.

  3. Vermont economy depends heavily on tourism. Anyone can help by making it a destination this year — either for leaf-peeping, skiing, river-rafting. hiking, maple sugaring — whatever. It’s a great state to visit and just a half a tank of gas from Westport.

  4. Thanks, Dan, for putting the sea wall argument in perspective.

  5. Thanks for writing this Dan. I, like Jon Gailmor, am a Staples graduate (’86) now firmly and happily planted in Vermont. I am enormously proud of the resilience of the people of our great little state; we have pulled together to help each other in ways that truly define “community.”

    I want to give a public thanks to a fellow Westporter, Marcia Falk who, soon after the flood, organized efforts to collect some much-needed items which she brought to the Mad River Valley, where her son lives and where many Westporters travel to ski at Sugarbush. I’ve heard of other similar efforts that have been undertaken by folks who visit Vermont throughout the year and their support and generosity is appreciated more than can be expressed here.

    I’ll also confirm Jon’s assessment of this year’s foliage. I’ve lived here for 25 years and it’s been quite some time since I’ve seen the foliage as stunning as it is this year. Parts of the state continue to struggle but we have pulled together and with help from friends near and far, Vermont continues to be open for business.

    Finally, for anyone planning to visit Vermont, please check out this website that was developed by Google and the Vermont Agency of Transportation, which gives detailed information about the status of Vermont roads.

  6. Graze Delivered ( makes deliveries to the Westport area every Monday, and we will be helping transport the items you leave at Selda’s home to the good folks in need back in Vermont devastated by Irene. If you have skis and larger items to donate, please let us know ( and we can try arrange to pick these up separately instead of loading up Selda’s home!