Beverly Jelley and volunteers clean out her store in Londonderry on Tuesday, July 11.
Patrick Crowley/VTDigger
Beverly Jelley and volunteers clean out her store in Londonderry on Tuesday, July 11.

'We all owe her'

Community members give back to the owner of Jelley's, a neighborhood deli and liquor store - and a community hub - that was flooded by the West River

LONDONDERRY — In the parking lot outside her store Tuesday, Beverly Jelley was taking inventory.

Holding a yellow legal notebook, she kept a list of food items - some waterlogged - that volunteers were taking from her store and bringing outside. After the food was accounted for, it was thrown into a dumpster.

Jelley's is a neighborhood staple, a deli and liquor store that also serves as a de facto community meeting place, according to town resident Salina Cobb. Jelley herself is part of the charm.

When Jelley left her store early Monday morning, water from the nearby West River had already entered the building and risen to knee level. She evacuated.

She was not allowed to return until Tuesday morning. In the meantime, the river continued to rise, devastating a whole row of businesses along a stretch of Route 11.

Jelley returned to find her store a complete mess. Water had reached the cash register. She called her insurance company and was told all the food should be thrown out.

So she, her daughter, and her granddaughter showed up first on Tuesday morning to begin the cleanup. Store employees showed up next.

Then community members arrived to help out.

“People have been here all day long,” Jelley said.

The store's own dumpster was quickly filled. A customer dropped off another one, which by 3:30 p.m. Tuesday was about half-full with a full store's worth of deli items - breads, doughnuts, bags of chips, hot dogs, and more.

Inside, the floor of the store was slippery from a layer of mud. The lights were out as volunteers methodically removed all the perishables.

Jelley pointed to the window where a visible water line was marked by dirt.

The water was about 5 inches higher than the water line left behind by Irene's floodwaters, she said.

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