Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Wetter is NOT Better!

Just a little more than one week after Vermont was devastated by tropical storm Irene, the steady rain remnants from Lee continue to wreak havoc.  I never before recall in my lifetime seeing this type of destruction in such a widespread area.  Since the storm on August 28th, large equipment such as backhoes and bucket loaders have been out in force.  I wish an aerial view could capture how many of these mechanical monsters are out there all day, every day, raking, scraping, digging and dredging. Just a photo of a one mile square area could make the point - they are everywhere, working frantically.  Flash flood warnings have been streaming in all week as we get another 1 to 4 inches of rain on already saturated ground and in the stream and riverbeds.

Route 106 washout along the Black River (some 70+ feet below!) - this is 4 miles south of us

Everyone in our town continues to chip in and do all they can to help those most seriously affected.  Heather has made great progress and has qualified for FEMA money. On Monday, Annie and I joined a small team of folks to dig out the 6 inches of dark, heavy river mud from another neighbor's cellar.  This mud looks and feels like cement mix, ready to mortar some bricks or stones.  When you stand in this stuff it is difficult to step out of it as it sucks your foot in like a hungry swamp beast.  One shovelful and bucketful at a time are carried up the steep and narrow cellar steps to the bucket loader waiting outside.  The bucket loader then motors down the street to a dumpster and plunks the gook in.

1969 Gravely awaiting final rescue after hand digging

Lisa and Wayne's surreal yard with swing set and
flowers in the foreground for profound effect

Thanks to good friends and family members who own and operate earth moving equipment, Lisa and Wayne's place is really shaping up.  This was the place whose yard became a huge boulder field.  Their cellar and garage are all dug out and even the 1969 Gravely has been rescued from the rocky debris!

To my surprise, Lisa showed up with shovel and gloves to help the digging team Monday! I said "What are YOU doing here?" She said "I am so tired of digging out my own house I thought I'd come down here to help." Wow.

Needless to say we haven't been climbing much.  The rains have not only made much of the rock unfavorable, but while the weather was good there was cleanup work to be done.  We took a break on Saturday and got in some routes in northern Vermont where we had never climbed before.  I was quite surprised that the rock was dry enough to climb.  It dried as we climbed and by end of day was pretty decent!

This is my favorite time of year to climb in the Adirondacks (fondly, "the DAKs").  However, the Keene Valley where so much of the great climbing is located was also up-ended by Irene.  Roads are closed and washed out throughout the region there, and homes were destroyed and damaged.

I have been pondering the environmental impacts of this storm a lot lately.  Any marine life that existed before in the streams and rivers is completely wiped out I expect. Fish gone. What about the insects, earthworms, snakes and frogs that live in the wetlands, fields and near the waterways?  And then there's the TRASH and debris.  All across the affected areas there is litter - some from washing downstream and being deposited on land that otherwise is a long way from the water. Tree limbs, weeds and grass-like debris were all swept across open areas and lodged against obstacles such as other trees, banks, walls and bridges.  And lastly, the rebuilding and cleanup efforts are so intense and urgent that the impact of truck traffic, cars and foot traffic seems unprecedented. I expect our roads will be in terrible shape this winter as the heavy trucks take their toll on the pavement which is already cracked and heaved from previous winters. Funds will certainly be exhausted so that normally scheduled repairs are likely to take a back seat or fall off entirely.  All of this at a time when our environment and economy is so fragile.  I find it hard to be optimistic considering all of this.  Where is the silver lining? Can someone show me please?

1 comment:

  1. Ugh! Sad days.

    The silver lining is way down there with the burnt out light at the end of the tunnel.