Book News: Vermont Public Radio

On March 9, we threw a book launch party for When the River Rose at the Green Mountain Coffee Visitor Center & Cafe at Waterbury Station. It was an incredible event that was featured in a segment on Vermont Public Radio.

The VPR segment included quotes from Waterbury’s David Goodman, who edited the book; Sue Minter, who is helping lead the recovery efforts; and Gordon Miller, a long-time resident who donated photography to the book project. You can listen to the segment at VPR.net.

The book party was a huge success: We sold more than 100 books to a veritable flood of folks from the community, who came out to hear David Goodman and Duncan McDougall speak, watch Gordon Miller’s slideshow, and listen to personal stories from When the River Rose read by their authors – the citizens of Waterbury.

We were even serenaded by two very talented high school students who wrote a song about the flood and sang it to the crowd in perfect harmony.

Stairs on My Neighbor’s Car

(This story does not appear in When the River Rose.)

As we started down Randall Street, I was struck by how many sets of stairs littered the street. Still, it wasn’t until I was just in front of my house and saw a set of stairs solidly perched on top of the roof of my neighbor’s car that it hit me: The river had made it into the first floor of our home.

- Heidi Hall

Keep Calm and Carry On

(This story does not appear in When the River Rose.)

I reported to work on Monday, August 29th for my regularly scheduled night shift in the admissions office at the Vermont State Hospital in Waterbury. To my dismay the entire area of our building was destroyed. Everything – documents, equipment, furniture, etc. – was water logged and mud caked. It was a terrible sight, resembling a war zone. I learned the water rose to a depth of about a foot just below the ceiling.

This was a moment that stands out in my mind. It was not only a testament to the powerful force of Mother Nature, but also of how people come together in times of disaster and support their neighbors. It was a weird feeling to see the mess. I had been coming to the office for a couple of years, and I was now wondering, “What will the future bring?”

But seeing my co-workers pitch in, evacuate patients, and clean up – I knew the future could not be anything less than bright: We will all go on, we will survive, and this too shall pass! It reminded me of a logo from WW II that said, “Keep calm and carry on.”

- Robert Borkowski

In Water’s Wake

(This poem does not appear in When the River Rose.)

The radio informs us,
sitting on our hill,
of rivers gone rogue
ripping through docile lands,
and warns low-lying dwellers
of imminent danger.

Our imaginations draw on the past
dread, rising with the water
memories laced with acrid odors, choking air
certain loss and death,
stinking, crushing walls of surging rage
a natural, unnatural stripping of identity.

The radio informs us,
helpless in our home,
of the neighborhood below —
people trapped, current too strong
as rivers tear through the landscape that sustains us
meadows, woodlands and well-trod pastures.

Our imaginations draw on the past
dread, rising with the water
while rivers shred the very valleys that have cradled them,
redefining roadways, swallowing old bridges
brutally carving through boundaries
unable to hold against the roaring destruction.

The radio informs us,
waiting and useless,
there may be more evacuations should dams need relief,
more towns cut off, more history swept downriver
though the water, furious and alarming, will quickly disperse —
unlike the heaps of lifetimes, tragically left in its wake.

- Susan Turner

A Service Animal Is Born

(This story does not appear in When The River Rose.)

After listening to WDEV and realizing that the river was rapidly rising – and already flooding one end of our road – we decided to evacuate. Our dog, Callie, who is almost 15 years old, deaf, arthritic and possibly a little neurotic, followed us around as we frantically pulled a few things together. We wouldn’t even think about leaving her behind, so we carried her to the car and fled the house.

When we arrived at the Best Western, which doesn’t accept animals, I checked us in while my husband waited in the car with the dog. It was just my luck: We got the last room, which was right off the main lobby.

So now I had to get creative and figure out how to sneak this dog into our room. Did I mention she doesn’t do leashes well? I snapped the leash on and looked into her cloudy eyes and told her she has a new job. It was being a service dog, so she had better walk quietly and gently beside me. Somehow she must have heard me because when I opened the door to the main lobby she trotted along beside like she had been doing this for years!

Of course all the people in the lobby, along with all the National Guard there, looked at us. I felt like a spotlight was shinning on us as I just squared my shoulders, looked straight ahead and marched on through the crowd and down the hallway to our room. Of course dogs need to go outside periodically, so several times I had to repeat this little performance.

I was very glad that when we checked out, the man at the desk, who had watched all this the night before, only said to me, “You know we don’t accept dogs here.”

I quickly replied, “Yes, I know, but she is a service animal.”

And with a wink and grin we departed.

- Delina Benway