Flooding & Disaster

We’ve been pretty quiet the past couple of days here on the blog: it’s a busy time of the year for me, and what with the flooding, road closures and general upheaval in the state, we’ve dropped some of our usual features in the interests of road and traveller safety. If you’re interested in seeing what is going on in the meantime, check back on one of our earlier posts about where we look: colleges, game stores, and so forth are still holding events: just be careful out there, especially as we face a second round of rain storms.

The flooding has put into perspective a number of things that are both speculative and non-fictional. Over the past couple of days, I’ve seen a lot of talk about how this is a portent of things to come: that climate change is a certain factor in the flooding. I don’t think that this is the case. Statistically, we can expect floods of certain magnitudes to hit every century, half-century, decade and yearly. This flood certainly falls into that category, and even fits with what we saw back in 1927: a tropical storm that wandered up to the state and dumped quite a bit of rain on our fair state.

That being said, is global climate change a factor? Most likely, if anything, in the increased potential for stronger hurricane seasons as the planet’s oceans warm up: however, these are trends that are hard to predict, realtime, and like the determination of recession in the country, we can likely make that determination with more certainty. However, it does make for very good evidence of the damage that storms can bring as a result of warmer temperatures, and the entire range of consequences that that has on our lives.

If this is a signal for things to come, it’s a strong demonstration that our state, despite the longer winters, will be affected, and that the effects will have larger consequences: roads and towns wiped off the maps, our agriculture drowned under rapidly rising and shifting rivers, and a financial burden that will make life harder for everyone.

But, it also brought out the best in our state: the outpouring of relief aid from fellow Vermonters, the help and assistance that people provided for their neighbors and the strength that Vermont has shown brings me much hope for the future. The roads and towns of Vermont might be broken, but not the people.

How to Follow Along with Irene


Now that the storm is over, Facebook and Twitter have lit up with information about the storms. Here’s a couple of ways in which you can follow along.

On Twitter:

The hashtag #VTIrene is being used for information: it’s a catch all for everything to do with the storm, from recovery to news, photos and updates about the storm.

The hashtag #VTResponse is being used to help coordinate volunteers to help respond to the storm.

Governor Shumlin, over on @VTGovernor, is also a fantastic place to get up to date information throughout the day. He’s been very responsive with information.

On Facebook:

Vermont Flooding 2011 is a great place to go as a community bulletin board for information: go take a look and contribute if you can!

Follow us on Twitter (@GeekMtnState) for information as we get it.

Flood, Day 2

We’re going to hold off on posting our Geek Things post until more roads are fixed: the recommendation that we’ve heard is to stay off the road and to let the work crews do their job.

The devestation that we’ve seen in the state is just mind-blowing: towns and streets are turned into post-apocalyptic wastelands, while minutes away, life gets on fairly normally. Yesterday, I walked around Northfield, Vermont, where Water Street lived up to its name: houses and roads were covered with mud, belongings out on the sidewalk and roads ripped to shreds. Pictures from other towns around the state showed similar images from around the state. We’re truely fortunate here in Montpelier that we weren’t hit as hard as other places, and we wish everyone the best as they work to recover. If there’s anything that we can do, be sure to let us know.

Still, for all of the horrible stories that we’ve seen, three fatalities in the state, roads, homes and livelihoods destroyed, The Alchemist in Waterbury closed for the foreseeable future, there’s stories of people doing the extrordinary: our story earlier this morning from Jen Vaughn, saving a library from the water, rescue personnel bringing people out of harm’s way, and the crews working to restore power: these are the stories that give us hope, and allow us to keep going.

In the meantime, stay safe.

Saving the Library

schulzIrene How to Save a Graphic Novel Library

The Beat has a fantastic post up about how volunteers worked tirelessly to save the Schultz Library in White River Junction by our friend Jen Vaughn:

How to Save a Graphic Novel Library

1-DISOBEY THE LOCAL AUTHORITIES The police asked the cartoonists to evacuate themselves from the Library and they listened…until the police went away at which time a wily Michelle Ollie and James Sturm (respectively president and director of The Center for Cartoon Studies) led students, alum and staff back to the building that houses the Schulz Library. Propane tanks and train cargo cars slammed into the bridge and building as the water shifted. The surging water crested high and threatened the second floor of the building to the point that everyone had to leave. Many of these students couldn’t get back to their homes because of the flooding but luckily, they had friends everywhere!

2-GET ACCOMPLICES Not only did the cartoonists come but thanks to word of mouth and social networking, several ‘townies’ as they are called showed up to help the students load books into cars to drive the short distance from library to storage facility. It’s amazing to hear that guy who always wears the gray shirt at the coffee shop schlepped books around in the wee hours (lookin’ at you, John and Jevan).

Read the entire, fantastic story here.

Bartleby’s Books & Irene

Bartleby’s Books, in Willmington, Vermont, one of the towns hardest hit by the flooding, recieved some national attention from the LA Times earlier today:

Hurricane Irene dumped 6 inches of rain on Vermont, pushing many waterways over their banks. Rising floodwaters meant bad news for many businesses, including Bartleby’s Books in Wilmington, Vt.

Bartleby’s Books owner Lisa Sullivan says that the building is standing but flooded, the stock ruined, and that she is awaiting help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, according to Shelf Awareness.

Full article here.

“We will rebuild.” There’s something so great about hearing the resiliance in Vermonters. If nothing else, this storm has demonstrated the willingness of neighbors helping each other: I’ve seen this in both Montpelier and Northfield today, as people worked to clean up the streets.

Center for Cartoon Studies & Flooding


Via Cartoon Reporter, the Center for Cartoon Studies was in danger of losing the contents of the Schulz Library as floodwaters rose.

Upon hearing dozens of e-mailed and tweeted rumors, CR asked Center For Cartoon Studies Director James Sturm for an update as to possible storm-related damage hitting CCS and particularly its Schulz Library. He responded at approximately 3:30 AM Monday morning.

“Crazy night,” Sturm wrote. “Brave and tough-minded group moving books out of the library until 3 AM as White River continued to rise.”

Those following the weekend’s news closely know that as much as Hurricane Irene seemed to fizzle out of any serious impact on New York City as had been feared, the state of Vermont was hit with torrential rains and resulting flooding, with rivers that may not have crested as of Monday morning. CCS in located in White River Junction. The Center’s Schulz Library is located nearest the river of any school building. A late-night call went out for volunteers to help salvage books before they were potentially water damaged.

Fortunately, it appears as though the library and center have been spared: “Not one book lost.” However, there has been damage reported to the buildings.


Vermont Flood

There’s no Geek Things to be listed today: the flooding that hit Vermont last night has rendered upwards of 250 roads closed or damaged, and we’d like to encourage people to check up on the streets that are local before heading out. If you do go out, please be careful.

We’ll be retweeting information over on @GeekMtnState and will be bringing some updates to you from here.