Hurricane Irene off the coast of the United States, in a photo taken by NASA astronaut Ron Garan.
Anne Galloway of VTDigger.org contributed to this report.
Originally published in The Commons issue #116 (Wednesday, August 31, 2011).
As much as 11 inches of rain fell on some parts of Vermont, according to the National Weather Service. In Windham County, rain totals ranged from 4 inches in East Dummerston and nearly 5 inches at the Townshend and Ball Mountain dams, to 7.47 inches in Marlboro and 7.87 inches in West Wardsboro.
Three people have died: a Ludlow boater, a municipal official in Rutland, and a 20-year-old woman in Wilmington. Another man remains missing.
A 20-year-old woman from Macedonia was the lone Windham County fatality from the storm. According to Wilmington Police Chief Joe Szarjeko, Ivana Taseva drowned when she was swept away by the Deerfield River in Wilmington on Sunday.
Taseva, her boyfriend, and two other men were driving in a car on Route 100 when they were caught in rapidly rising water. Szarjeko said the car began to be carried off by the water, and Taseva and her boyfriend were unable to get to higher ground. He was able to hang on to the car, but Taseva could not.
Her body was found several hours later near the Deerfield Valley Elementary School, about 175 yards from where she entered the water, Szarjeko said.
Taseva, a housekeeper at the Mount Snow resort, was in Vermont on a summer work visa.
The state’s utilities are busy cleaning up after Irene.
About 1,200 Green Mountain Power and Central Vermont Public Service customers in Windham County were without power as of Tuesday afternoon. At the peak of the storm on Sunday, more than 13,000 customers in the county had lost power.
Central Vermont Public Service says recovery will entail a monumental effort due to closed bridges and washouts of a number and intensity not seen in generations. More than 70,000 customer outages resulted from the storm, with about 17,000 customers statewide still without service as of Tuesday afternoon.
Line crews across central and southern Vermont are building completely new lines — often in new locations — as they work to restore power in the hardest-hit areas.
“We normally would rebuild lines where they previously stood, but in town after town, that’s no longer an option because roads are gone and the soil has washed away completely,” said Bill Jakubowski, CVPS’s coordinator of capital construction and right-of-ways. “The old locations, in many cases, are simply not an option.”
CVPS spokesman Steve Costello also said customers in many areas will see new lines in new places over the coming days. “Typically we’d have extensive discussion about the location of new power lines, but our focus right now has to be on getting service back to every community we can reach as quickly as possible,” Costello said. “This is not business as usual. Entire lines have disappeared.”
Costello said where possible the company is conferring with local officials, but in some cases CVPS will simply have to build the lines where they can find access routes. CVPS employees will be out surveying new lines today and in the coming days in advance of construction.
Crews were dealing not just with the loss of dozens of utility poles, but also the scouring of all of the soil that held the poles up.
Springfield Operations Supervisor Ed Whittemore said that in many cases, even if the road existed, there is no soil left in which to install new poles.
Projects that will entail the complete reconstruction of entire sections of the utility system. In Jamaica, for example, crews were able to feed the center of the village through a backfeed, but the lines heading in both directions from the village center were washed away.
Editor’s note: Our terms of service require you to use your real names. We will remove anonymous or pseudonymous comments that come to our attention. We rely on our readers’ personal integrity to stand behind what they say; please do not write anything to someone that you wouldn’t say to his or her face without your needing to wear a ski mask while saying it. Thanks for doing your part to make your responses forceful, thoughtful, provocative, and civil. We also consider your comments for the letters column in the print newspaper.