(This story appears in When the River Rose.)
I am a trooper with the Vermont State Police, and until August 28th I lived with my husband on South Main Street in Waterbury. I was scheduled to work a nine-hour shift on that day, but because of the storm I continued working into the night.
At approximately 6:30 p.m., I went to Marshfield to assist in evacuating residents from the area of the Marshfield Dam so the dam could be released. On the way, I heard that South Main Street was flooding and the Waterbury Fire Department was about to close it down. I had to get home; my two dogs were locked in their crate on the first floor of my apartment.
As awful thoughts raced through my head, the convoy of cruisers came to a stop and my sergeant walked back to my window. The power company was not ready to release the dam and so, with a sigh of relief, I turned around and made my way to Waterbury.
When I entered the village and pulled up next to the fire engines, the barracks receptionist walked over to me and told me there was no way I was driving my cruiser to my apartment. There was already almost three feet of water in the road.
At this point I began thinking my dogs might not make it out. As I sat in my cruiser contemplating what to do next, I was told that the forensics lab parking lot, which was pretty close to my backyard, was not yet flooded. As I pulled in, I immediately turned on my spotlight and tried to locate my apartment. My heart started to pound as I saw how high the water was.
I shined the light on my apartment door. I knew if I didn’t act quickly I wouldn’t get my dogs out. I waded in as fast as I could; the water continued to get deeper and deeper, until I was wading in water up to my chest. I began thinking I was going to have to swim. But I made it over the fence and across the yard.
My apartment door was under immense pressure and was difficult to open. As I opened it, more water rushed in. I ran through knee-deep water past my floating couches to find my dogs up to their necks.
I called my dogs out, but the water rushing in was enough to make them want to stay. I waded around looking for their leashes. I hooked them up and literally pulled them outside and headed back to my cruiser. I looked to my left and saw our cars with water up to the brake lights. I looked at the debris rushing by me, and I began to second guess my venture back to the cruiser. But there was no other choice. I took a deep breath and began treading through the water again.
When I made it back I called my sergeant, who told me to load my dogs into the cruiser and return to the barracks, where I tried to dry out.
I had nowhere to go and almost nothing to my name. My husband was in Georgia for National Guard training. I called a family friend who welcomed my pups and me with open arms. I fell asleep that night not knowing what I was going to do, but thankful for the people and support around me.
- Amber Haag, South Main Street