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Irene Review

Governor Patrick with Heath officials

It has been exactly a week since I wrote about our experience of Irene here. Since then towns across the region have been busy picking up the pieces. Governor Deval Patrick made his third trip to Heath (the first governor in history to pay so much attention to Heath) and on Wednesday he met with town officials. Here he is looking at a map of damaged road with Mike Smith in his Fire Chief uniform, but he is also our beloved road crew boss who has worked so hard to get enough roads fixed so we can all make our way into the greater world of grocery stores. To the left of the photo are Tom Lively, Brian deVries and Sheila Litchfield, our selectboard, who have also put in a lot of time this week with the Emergency Response Committee.

The governor arrived by helicopter, but  local TV station reporters and reporters from multiple print outlets had to drive to the town common. Fortunately for us we didn’t need to have helicopters from FEMA drop water and MREs down to us, as they did in Hawley, the town of 300 across Route 2. My friend Tinky Weisblat wrote about her experiences with MREs on her blog In Our Grandmother’s Kitchens.

Deerfield River in Shelburne Falls

We did not have too much clearing up to do around our house, and the road crew did a great job of repairing our road, so I was able to go out and see what else was happening in the neighborhood. They were not happy sights with bridges destroyed and streams carving out new beds with trees that were carried in the rushing water. I went down to help clean up the Bridge of Flowers on Friday and the Deerfield River was looking muddy but so quiet and innocent. It didn’t seem possible that it had washed away Ann Brauer’s Quilt Studio (which has already found a new home on Bridge Street) and done all manner of damage to riverside shops.

The Bridge of Flowers in Shelburne Falls

At the same time there was so much damage in The Falls, the Bridge of Flowers was relatively unscathed. Roaring waters splashed over the Bridge, but did not overwhelm it. I was part of a crew that helped clean the path of a layer of silt while marvelling at how  wonderful the flowers looked.

Bridge of Flowers path resurfacing

A crew of men came in to help us women with the heavy work of wheelbarrowing in loads of stone dust to resurface the path. More members of the Blossom Brigade went in for a final tweak and deadheading before the Bridge reopened on Friday evening. Hooray  for the Bridge of Flowers volunteers!

It is raining again this Monday morning and we’ll enter a new week, an autumnal week, with children back to school, though not necessarily their usual schools because of flooding damage, and commuters become more familiar with necessary detours that will be in place for some time.

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