Tuesday, September 06, 2011

After the deluge

Bad things tend to happen when I'm on holiday. I'll spare you the details of nightmares past, but let's just say it's a trend I've been trying to ignore for a few years. I mean, who wants to head off for vacation harbouring dark imaginings about what will happen this time?

What happened this time was that Hurricane Irene jumped out of the 24-hour-news cycle and bit us in the ass. We were staying at my dad's place in Waterbury, Vermont - safe, one would think, from the kind of extreme summer weather southerners are more accustomed to. But Irene took a path right up the east coast, through New York and all the way up into Vermont, where the mountain ranges that usually protect us from such dramatic storms made little difference. The worst flooding to hit the state since 1927 ensued : roads washed out, homes and businesses destroyed, power cuts, everything under a layer of toxic mud.

We can be thankful our family wasn't evacuated to sleep on cots in a church, only to wake up and find our house and all its contents destroyed, like a few people I know in Waterbury. Everyone was safe and dry in our house. We lost power for 24 hours, and yes, it was unfortunate that the power cut coincided with my eldest experiencing a barfing bug, but, well... and if our flight cancellation meant we had an extra week in Vermont, well, great! Except for the fact that we couldn't leave the house (yup, still barfing.) And we know we were lucky to get flights back to Manchester even a week later than the original departure date, it coulda been so much worse. Yes, even if the flights involved a hellish three-leg journey over 20 hours that will take several months to recover from and included inept and borderline rude airline staff, demonically tired toddlers and bumpy, endless circles in the air above Heathrow. Maybe we will have recovered by next summer. Or not? I may not go on holiday again until my children are old enough to drive.

But seriously, tiny Vermont, the most beautiful state in New England, on the Canadian border - yes, the state that most British people and indeed many Americans have never heard of - this state is in a bad state. And it's my home. I know folks there are doing all they can to help each other get through this, but it's come at a difficult time for so many people. If you can spare a little cash, send some their way.

Photo: downtown Waterbury, courtesy USA Today

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