I'm in Massachusetts for work again, and on my drive through Vermont on I-89 yesterday, I could hardly tell that something awful had happened just a few days ago, and was continuing to happen, just out of my sight off the highway. Except, that is, for the Vermont Edition program I was listening to all the way down, that kept on reminding me.
As I got close to the border of VT/NH, I stopped at the "last rest area on I-89 in VT," as its signage said, only to find that it was closed, probably due to the flood damage. Its parking area was filled with heavy equipment and a few National Guardsmen were walking around. So I took the next exit off the highway and stopped at a gas station that was right off the exit to use their facilities, then buy a drink.
The guy in front of me in the checkout line was a young guy probably my daughter's age, who asked for a pack of Marlboros, and then proceeded to ask the woman behind the counter how to get to Rochester. Rochester is one of the communities on the official list of 13 Vermont towns that are cut off from the rest of the world due to the storm.
The woman behind the counter, in typical Vermont fashion, began listing off all the roads he COULDN'T take because they were washed out or closed or the bridge had floated away. The real answer, of course, was, "Ya can't get theyah from heyah," and this time it was not meant in that wry New England way, but straight-up for realz.
The young guy said, "Because I heard they are completely isolated, and I have a four-wheel-drive Jeep filled with food and water...."
Of course the sentiment is beautiful, and it nearly brought me to tears. A young guy wanted to help. I did not say anything, only took it in silently, but I had just heard many stories on the radio of, for example, the woman who said she had hiked three miles in and three miles out of a particularly far-flung and easily forgotten town, and she wanted to remind the powers that be not to forget them. And I heard over and over on the radio program that people should probably try their best not to get in the way of the hardworking utility crews and rescue personnel and relief agencies by attempting their own relief and rescue efforts, however well-meaning. This was spiced up with the cautionary message that some people are doing things and being in places that are dangerous, moving barriers and driving where the ground is unsafe, and standing in places that could give way, and they really oughtn't to do that.
I joked with my lovely Sandy later, as sweet and goodhearted as this young man is, the next thing we'll probably hear is that he is the subject of a many-thousand-dollar rescue effort himself. But still...
But being a Vermonter is the most amazingly wonderful thing. Take a look at this blog that was set up:
Going down through the Helping Hands and the Temporary Shelter tabs got me all choked up.
Watch, people: Vermonters will show you the way.