It’s interesting to note, as we head toward the second anniversary of Tropical Storm Irene’s visit to Vermont, just how far the rebound from that horrible day has stretched around the valley.
The region’s recovery hasn’t always been smooth, or easy, but in towns throughout the valley there are positive signs that folks in their individual communities have found the strength not just to rebuild what was lost, but to build something better than was there before.
That rebound would have been hard to imagine as floodwaters tore through the villages in Wilmington, Jamaica, and Wardsboro and devastated roads and bridges from Halifax to South Newfane and just about everywhere in between. Anyone who saw the immediate aftermath could only be heartbroken for what was lost, and stunned thinking about the amount of effort that would be needed to rebuild and recover.
For the most part, that effort has been mustered as towns around the area are showing the fruits of those labors. Some towns have gone through more than just a rebuild and have embraced the opportunity to transform into something more than they were before the floods.
Wilmington and Dover are two such communities. Wilmington has seen most of the buildings in the village center rebuilt. Granted, there are still some that are under reconstruction, but the village in general looks as good as it did before the flood, and in some ways better. A new parking lot has been added behind the West Main Street store. A new footbridge has been dropped in on the west end as well. Both of these things have added significantly to the ongoing facelift of the community.
Dover has followed through on plans that were first laid before the floods hit and is in the process of developing a community park in the center of the West Dover commercial village. A gazebo has gone up, a playground has been built, and the park will soon be complete and offer a nice bit of public greenspace along Route 100.
We hope this trend continues. Towns, much like homes and businesses, need to improve their infrastructure from time to time.
As we learned during those dark days following Irene, the real strength of our local communities lies in the character of the people who populate them.
What we’re seeing now is more strength of character, both in town officials for supporting the projects, and in voters for approving them. The end results are propelling our towns forward to be better than they were, to be more livable and user-friendly. That is something we can all applaud as we enjoy the outcomes of those projects.