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Revisiting Vermont: So Close To Home

I wrote Tuesday’s post, “Green Mountain Blues” — about the devastation Vermont suffered from Hurricane Irene — because many Westporters have close ties to the Green Mountain State.

Former Staples English teacher Karl Decker sent a link to dozens of powerful photos.  I chose one that, to me, represented the carnage more than any other:

Within hours, I heard from Julien Delepine.  He grew up in Westport, and — with his wife and child — still lives here.

Incredibly, he said:

That Route 4 picture you posted is of my mother’s house.  She lost 7 acres to a brook that turned violent.  It’s a brook I always used to walk through.

I emailed his mother, Josiane.  Yesterday she added harrowing details about her devastating loss.

She lives off Route 4, just below the photo, with Todd Keehan — like her, another longtime Westporter.  When the road collapsed in front of her house, Mendon Brook changed its course.  It surged onto her property, taking everything there with incredible strength.

Hundreds of trees toppled like dominoes.  Gone too are 6 acres of beautiful woods and meadows; her lawn; flowers; nearly an acre of raspberries, and a vegetable garden.

In their place lie piles of boulders and stones.  And until a bridge is rebuilt, Josiane and Todd live in area locals call “the island.”

A raging "brook" engulfs Josiane Delepine's property.

The state — overwhelmed by destruction everywhere — cannot help replace what Josiane lost.

She had no flood insurance.  Who would have imagined that a brook could  unleash such damage?

FEMA does not pay for landscape replacement.  Josiane hopes for help from environmental groups, and is appealing to FEMA to at least cover her failed septic system.  She wonders if anyone has any ideas on how to cut through red tape, and make the system work.

The tagline of “06880” is “Where Westport meets the world.”  Even in tiny Mendon, Vermont, Westport is part of that world.

And now — even more than before — we are part of that story.

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