In April we thought the flooding couldn’t get any worse. Then came August and Hurricane Irene. Our beautiful and tranquil Boquet River, along with its sister streams, came out of their banks, like nothing we had ever seen.
The Boquet did some of its worst damage on River and Water streets. Almost every house had water in the basement. The Old Mill neighborhood fared worse. Mud and debris swirled through the living room and kitchen, leaving its dirty mark up the walls. A lost staircase was found up against a tree, and buildings from Maple to River streets were lifted off their foundations and deposited where they didn’t belong. Sharon Hutchins lost her Red Barn Shop, leaving us without a place to buy antiques. Bub’s, Wilson’s and stores on Water Street were invaded by Barton Brook and The Branch.
New Russia made headlines when Roaring Brook lived up to its name and cut a new channel through Marli Pinter’s house. Our brave firemen used a boat to rescue Paul McCoy and family. Superintendent Gail Else and the school staff opened ELCS as a shelter, with cots supplied by Patty Bashaw and the Rescue Squad. More than 30 people spent Sunday night in the shelter, with Stewart’s and Grand Union providing refreshments. The residents of Boquet Senior Housing and other people forced from their homes by rising water were among those seeking shelter. Stranded travelers from I-87 also found their way to our school for the night.
Monday morning arrived with sunshine, and the rivers back in their banks. It took a while for the Town, County and State Highway Departments to assess all the bridges and roads that had suffered damage. News began to trickle in of even more wreckage in the towns of Keene, Moriah and Jay. The Fire Department did amazing work pumping water out of basements. People who were fortunate enough to live above the floodwaters, pitched in to help those who weren’t so lucky.
A week later the dump trucks still rumble through our town carrying giant rocks used to repair our washed out roads. And Army camouflage vehicles mark the arrival of soldiers who will help Essex County recover from Hurricane Irene.