We are taught to believe that lightning never strikes twice in the same place. I can attest to the fact that this old wives tale is not true.
In the April 28, 2007 issue, I wrote about the strange storm that I encountered in Rutland, Vt. at the time of my mothers funeral. Gusting winds topping 60 mph had torn through the city toppling trees, smashing houses and shutting off power to over 50,000 customers. Damage to the municipalities was over $1 million. Our family farm escaped nearly unharmed, thanks to the nearby mountain that protects it.
Once in a lifetime? Not so! I arrived again in Rutland on Aug. 24, looking forward to a fun weekend. My daughter and son-in-law were conducting an estate sale the next day at a fine old Victorian mansion in Rutland. We left for the site at 3 a.m. so that they could be ready for the first wave of customers at 7 a.m. It was a great sale and the weather was perfect.
Exhausted, I returned back to the farm at 9 a.m. to spend the rest of the day cooking for the crew party the next day. At 6 p.m., I received a call from a friend who warned me to make sure my car was protected from a bad storm he said was coming. I did as I was told, but wasnt worried as the sun was shining.
Family and crew members arrived and before anyone had the chance to sit down before the started shaking and a roaring sound could be heard like a fleet of army trucks approaching. Winds hit 70 mph, we heard later, and it was an awesome sight to see trees whipped in the gale as if they were rags before they fell to the ground with loud cracking crashes. The whole spectacle lasted 10 long minutes and suddenly everything was eerily quiet.
We emerged from the house to see the damage. The turbulence had passed between the house and garage, taking down three big trees like toothpicks. A three-story high weeping willow, planted with loving care by my mother 30 years ago, littered the lawn.The tree next to it had been torn out of the ground with the root ball high in the air and the next tree was shredded and torn. Further up the brook a butternut tree that was full grown before I was born lay prostrate in the hayfield.
A swath of shingles had been ripped from the roof of my late grandfathers house next door and about 10 yards out of the path of the wind, a wild cucumber vine had grown up the corner of the garage, covered with fluffy white blossoms. Not one bud had fallen from these delicate flowers.
Electricity immediately disappeared for 33,000 Vermonters and my spaghetti water sat cold. We used my daughters travel trailers propane so we all ate spaghetti that night.
The April storm had cost CVPS, Vermonts electric company, $3.5 million in repairs and this second storm was expected to cost $1.5 million. CVPS trucks patrolled all night long, their strong searchlights searching for breaks from pole to pole. Weird static lightning flashed constantly. The electricity came back on at 5:30 a.m. We saw many downed trees in Rutland that day, and the city was filled with the sound of chainsaws.
With no phone service, I couldnt find out what was happening in Warren County, but I later read that 9,000 people lost power and Glens Falls had suffered little. The worst damage was in Kingsbury, Fort Edward and east. I dont know if I was more worried about my two cats or my house.
My son was at the family camp, above the dam, during the storm. He took his boat up the river afterwards to Schroon Lake, and saw all the camps dark and foreboding when earlier they had been filled with people getting ready for the big Labor Day holiday.
The next time I want to go to Vermont, I dont know how welcome I will be, as the last two times I managed to bring the black clouds with me.