September 9, 2011
Stockbridge, Vermont - September 6, 2011
Getting into Stockbridge no longer takes a Herculean effort, but it's not smooth sailing either. At the beginning of Route 107 the blacktop is gone and only a muddy road remains.
Last week when WCAX News visited Stockbridge, the only sound was rushing water. Now Route 107 is an active construction site.
"We established a center line yesterday. The engineers and survey team are still working on where the road was and where it should be," said Sgt. David Noyes of the Maine National Guard.
While the work is underway, Route 107 is technically closed to traffic. The Maine National Guard is racing to rebuild a road that no longer exists. They're protecting their work by building berms to keep the river out and keeping a watchful eye on the weather.
"We'll kind of play it by ear," Noyes said. "We're pretty flexible and we just overcome any obstacles as they come. We're not easily deterred."
Neither is Frank Lambert. He's been fixing power tools in this town for the last 40 years. His shop sits right on Route 107. The washed-out road pulled the plug on business.
"I think as soon as this gets passable here all my old-time customers will probably be back," Lambert said.
He says the heavy equipment rolling around his front yard is encouraging. And the 84-year-old is determined to rebuild.
"We'll make a go of it. Work is something I love to do and I guess I got plenty of it," he said.
But where business is booming is at the community food shelf. Residents aren't paying for the goods, of course. But the bustling gathering place gives town officials a chance to get a sense of how folks are doing.
"After 10 days I had to get out," said Loretta Wright of Stonybrook.
Wright and her neighbors were trapped in Upper Stonybrook for more than a week before they bulldozed themselves out and ventured down the mountain.
"We're alive, we're healthy, we didn't lose our homes," she said. "What more can you ask for?"
Deborah Butler has been manning the town's food shelf. She says it's encouraging to watch how everyone has taken this storm in stride.
"They're smiling, they're happy, they're joking. It's not the somber mood it was when it first happened," Butler said.
"We have to fight for this," Wright said. "We have to get through it and we will and that's the amazing thing, we keep saying how strong we are and how this has taught us to be even stronger."
Armed with all the essentials the jovial crew loads into their 4-wheel chariot. For now it's the only way home.
One of the big questions is when school will begin in this community. We checked in with the Stockbridge Central School Tuesday and we're told that classes will start on Thursday but there will not be bus service. So hitting the books may still be a challenge for some students.