In Newfane, Vermonters Struggle To Get Home

08/30/11 7:34AM By Susan Keese
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(Host) The old Vermont saying that ‘You can't get there from here' has taken on new meaning in the aftermath of tropical storm Irene.

Washed-out roads, downed power lines and debris  have left some people stranded, and unable to connect with friends and loved-ones.

VPR's Susan Keese reports from Southern Vermont, where some of the worst damage occurred.

(Moore) "You cannot get to South Newfane, no. You can get to Williamsville, but you cannot get across the covered bridge."

Dave Moore, the Town of Newfane's Emergency Management Director, has been at the firehouse fielding calls like this one since Irene struck early Sunday.

Moore has been watching Vermont weather for 60 years. But this storm surprised him.

(Moore) " I've really not experienced water that come up as quick as that did with I guess the savageness of this one. And amazingly it seems to have come down almost as quick."

(Keese) Moore says he hears from some people who can't believe it isn't possible to get to their homes. But bridges are out all over town. Moore says he knows of at least 30 people who are stranded in their houses.

(Moore) " Almost every road that is tied into our major roads has a fair amount of damage  so , we have a problem."

 A woman stops by looking for the best way to get her daughter back from a Saturday night sleepover in a nearby town.

(Woman) "What I'm trying to find out is if someone parked on the other side of that, if my daughter could walk across that bridge on Depot street?"

(Moore) "We don't know that."

(Moore) "My understanding is not."

(Keese) Amber Downing says she had to climb down a ravine to get to her house from the ruined Dover Road in South Newfane.  She's pretty sure the house isn't structurally sound.

A house near hers is sitting in the middle of the road, surrounded by a tangle of downed trees.

(Downing)"And somebody's car is in the trees by our house. It's really just devastating to look at. You just can't fully understand it until you walk up the street and see it."

(Keese) Downing says she's looking for another place to live.  With so many utility poles in the river, she says, it's going to be a while before the lights and water come back on.   

Dave Moore says she's probably right.  He says the power companies need roads before they can replace power poles and wires.

It's going to take time.

For VPR News, I'm Susan Keese in Newfane. 

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