In Vermont, Sandy Is No Irene

10/30/12 5:50PM By Nancy Eve Cohen
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VPR/Nancy Eve Cohen
Peggy Tiffany biking home in Marlboro, VT after Tropical Storm Irene. Cars could not get through.

Vermonters who lived through the worst of Irene got prepared for Sandy. Generators sold out quickly and people settled in for whatever nature dished out. Irene survivors in southern Vermont say they've emerged from the storm much better than they had feared.

Dover Road in South Newfane was hard hit last year. The Rock River jumped its bank, taking one house downstream with it and severely damaging two others. The river got within fifteen feet of Luke Stafford's home. As Sandy came through he got a bit jittery.

"As the wind started and the power went out," Stafford said, "I started getting a little nervous. I was coming out to  check on the Rock River every two hours, to make sure it wasn't getting  too high."

But now Stafford says he's had a big sigh of relief. The river is roaring, but low  - and the rain stops every now and again.

"I won't say we're in the clear yet," said Stafford. "I don't want to jinx anything, but I feel a lot better this morning than I did two days ago. That's for sure."

Down the road in Marlboro Tom Fusco  at Alcan Power Equipment built a barrier back in the summertime between himself and any potential trouble.

"I built a berm, a three-foot high berm, over there with the tractor and the equipment between us and the brook," said Fusco with a laugh. "So I wasn't worried about the water coming over. If it comes over that, that bad, everybody else is going to be gone with it!" 

During Irene Fusco took care of everybody else. He ran a kind of command post here for his neighbors. This time he's volunteering to check in on second homes belonging to people in New Jersey and Connecticut, who have enough trouble where they are.

VPR/Nancy Eve Cohen
A pile of trees that had blocked the Rock River on Dover Road in South Newfane after Tropical Storm Irene.
"I got to run up and look at a couple of places just to assure a couple of people everything's OK," said Fusco. "And I'm sure it is."

About ten miles south of here in Halifax Jill Howe, who delivers the mail, says there's one big difference  between Sandy and irene

"There's roads!" exclaimed Howe. "Last storm there were no roads."

This time Howe is zipping along on the roads. But she's not taking anything for granted

"Trees are down. The towns are removing them," said Howe. "So I haven't run into it yet, but I still have 40 more miles to go !"

Back in Marlboro Peggy Tiffany is playing catch with her dog, Emma.

Tiffany, who says she was traumatized by Irene, was not only physically-prepared with a generator, but mentally-ready.

"I feel very calm," said Tiffany "Sort of made peace with the river."

Even when it rained hard.

"Little anxious at times---like last night I woke up," she recalled. "At one point it started to pour rain really heavy and  my heart  raced for a little bit. But I went, ‘OK! That's just rain. There's nothing to worry about. The stream isn't making wierd noises.' So I went back to sleep."

Tiffany says her lesson from Irene is you can't control nature. Just be ready for it.

VIDEO: Dover Road in South Newfane was heavily damaged during Tropical Storm Irene (Courtesy of Luke Stafford)


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