Sometimes I do things that I think are really smart and proactive and they turn out to be the stupidest thing I could have done.
I was supposed to be in Rutland, Vermont this week to do another three-day training session via video teleconference. It’s an hour and a half drive, so I decided to get a room this time instead of commuting. Then when I saw the news of Hurricane Irene coming I decided I should get a room in Killington, which is about 15 minutes away from Rutland but is on high ground and has no major rivers running through it.
I left early on Sunday to make sure I wasn’t held up by road closures. As I walked out the door my friend Mark said, “They’re saying on CNN that the flooding will be worse in Vermont than on the coast because of all the waterways.” Instead of thinking maybe I shouldn’t go, I took that to mean I’d better leave now.
I made it down Route 4 east just about an hour before they closed it due to the Ottaquechee River washing it out. All day and night Sunday, I watched the news of flooding in many lowland Vermont towns, including Rutland, and I felt smug because I’d been smart enough to book a room in Killington.
In the morning when I got up, I had no power and one of the Rutland Herald headlines was Killington is an island with no way in and no way out. My session was canceled because I couldn’t get to it. At first I didn’t care; I had my dog with me and the Appalachian Trail was only a couple miles away, so I went hiking. But when I came back, people started saying that Route 4 was so badly damaged that it could be weeks before it was fixed. The Killington Base Lodge collapsed. And while I was relatively lucky, having a dry hotel room which had gotten power back, there was a lot of talk about running out of food and supplies in the area.
Of course, elsewhere in Vermont things were much more dire. In some places small communities were still flooded, houses had washed away and they were completely cut off from help. I should not have been complaining.
On Tuesday I went hiking again and thought about my situation. I decided I would start walking the next morning. After all, I was only about 45 miles from home, and I could probably get a ride after about 25 miles.
Then when I got back to my room there was this news: a temporary route would be open for a two-hour window the next morning to get stranded people from Killington to the interstate.
I lined up at 7:30, along with about 200 other cars:
While we waited I talked to a bunch of people from New Jersey. They said they came up on Saturday before the storm hit in order to avoid the flooding they expected at home. I guess some people were even smarter than I was.
We started moving at about 8:15. The road alternated between patches of “just fine, what hurricane?” and “was there really a road here?” Before each damaged piece of road, there was usually a very nice man in a police uniform stopping each car and telling us, “Be very careful. One car at a time on the bridges. Go slow. You’re traveling at your own risk.” I did everything they said to do, except maybe it wasn’t very careful to take pictures while I was driving. Here are some of the things I saw:
I couldn’t take pictures in some of the worst spots because we were driving on dirt and I didn’t want to take my hands off the wheel.
After about three hours I made it home. Next time I will see “smart and proactive” differently. If you want to learn more about the Vermont flooding and how you can help victims, visit this Facebook page: