A Rememberance Of Those Who Died During Tropcal Storm Irene

08/28/12 12:50PM By John Van Hoesen, Patti Daniels
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Photo: Bess Klassen Landis
Kennedy Pond Dam in Windsor on August 28, 2011

As we come to the close of our coverage of the anniversary of Tropical Storm Irene, VPR wants to take time now to say the names and to remember the seven people who died as a result of the storm.

All seven deaths were in Rutland, Windsor and Windham counties.

The storm changed so many things about Vermont, even the language we use to remember those who lost their lives.

"Swept away" are the words in the official records for 20-year-old Ivana Taseva of Macedonia. She'd been part of a work program at Mount Snow.

It was late in the morning, last August 28th, Sunday, when Ivana Taseva and two others came upon rising water on Route 100 in Wilmington. Police said their car became surrounded by the swollen Deerfield River. While the others escaped, including her boyfriend, Taseva was swept away.

A bench on a bank above the Deerfield honors her memory with the words "Our greatest loss remembered."

In Rutland Town that Sunday near the Rutland City Reservoir water intake, father and son, Michael J. and Michael G. Garofano lost their lives to the raging Mendon Brook. They were 55 and 24 years old.

The elder Garofano was the city's water plant manager and he was checking on the safety of the water supply with his son. They too had been swept away.

Last September, the lump in Rutland Mayor Chris Louras's throat was felt by many.

"It's extremely easy to speak in platitudes. But words cannot convey the caliber of an individual that Michael was. And you can't possibly overstate the tragedy associated with his death on a number of levels."

At some point on August 28th, Kevin Davis, well known in Weston and Ludlow as the president of Mary W. Davis real estate, went to check on his house on Lake Rescue.

No one is sure exactly what happened, but he drowned at his lakeside residence. He was 50.

Friends remember him especially for giving his time and energy to the community.

The storm continued to claim the lives of Vermonters as the days and weeks passed.

On September 4th, the body of 52-year-old painter Anthony Doleszny was found in Brattleboro. He'd been riding his bicycle on Williams Street. He came upon a washed-out section of the road and fell 19 feet into the Whetstone Brook, suffering fatal injuries.

On September 21st, Master Sergeant Shawn Stocker of West Rutland was part of the National Guard recovery effort in the Cavendish area. He was stricken with a heart attack at 46.

For the service, the American flag was displayed over the street, using ladder trucks from fire companies in Rutland City and West Rutland.

On September 22nd, lifelong Woodstock resident William Elliott Flower died at the age of 86. A veteran of World War II, he had worked at the U.S. Post Office from 1947 to 1984 and was appointed postmaster in 1962. He was injured in a storm-related accident in his home the day after Irene struck. 

His obituary said that among his numerous life's accomplishments, he was most proud of his family.

Hardly a day goes by that Governor Peter Shumlin doesn't see the effects of Tropical Storm Irene.

"I think the biggest heartbreak for Vermonters from Irene is the extraordinary Vermonters that we lost. And as we rebuild our buildings and rebuild our businesses and get our farmers back on their feet, we can't replace the seven Vermonters that we lost."

Shumlin says the loss of life will permanently mark his own memory. He says he'll always remember the Garofanos of Rutland as they tried to protect Rutland's water supply.

"And I can tell you that those are the things that absolutely break your heart. So all of us have to continue to give them the support and love they deserve knowing they made the ultimate sacrifice in what was an extraordinarily difficult time."

And what is still a difficult time for Mayor Louras.

"There's a sense throughout the state a year later that some people want to celebrate and recognize the resilience of the state and the wonderful things that happened and the sense of community.  And as much as I would like to do that, and the city would like to do that, we need to mindful and sensitive to the tragedy that happened here in the city."

So one year later, Vermonters will mark the day. There will be remembrances of those who lost their lives. There will be bell-ringing, candlelight vigils, commemorations and celebrations of the state's fortitude.

At a statewide ceremony, the Vermont Youth Orchestra will raise their instruments, performing Barber's Adagio for Strings and the orchestra and the VYO Chorus will perform Mozart's Ave Verum Corpus.

Jeff Domoto, the music director of the Orchestra, says the two pieces were selected with care.

"The Barber is such a deeply felt, beautiful work. And it does have connotations of dealing with mourning and sadness. Not that we want that to be the entire tone of the evening, then to move to the Mozart which is an exquisitely beautiful piece, simple, to me very consoling and hopeful."

Jeff Domoto says there's a reason that we use music to express ourselves during challenging times.

"The power of music is precisely because it is not something that is visual or verbal. In a way, it accesses memory for us. We really believe that music creates community."


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