For the people who were affected by Tropical Storm Irene nearly a year ago, there is still a long way to go before emotional, logistical, material wholeness can begin to be a reality. However, the efforts of long-term recovery groups, parishes, the diocese, and individuals working together can – and are – making things happen that wouldn’t be possible for any individual or group acting alone. A recent example of how Vermont Episcopalians continue to generously show God’s love, supporting those in need quietly took place just a couple of weeks ago.
Through networks created following the storm, Asah Rowles, Executive Director of the Mad River Long-Term Recovery Committee, reported that a team of 35-40 people would be coming from Massachusetts to do recovery construction work in Waitsfield. Asah asked our Irene Flood Recovery Coordinator, Ann Cooper, if there was any way the Episcopal Church in Vermont could help feed the team. Ann immediately sent an ‘e-plea’ to her contacts which resulted in quick, affirmative responses from St. Dunstan’s in Waitsfield, St. James’ in Essex Junction and St. Andrew’s in Colchester, thanks to the extraordinary efforts of Beth Philips (St. Dunstan’s), Dave Ganter (St. James’), Kit Cooke, Margy and Sandy Zabriskie (St. Andrew’s). “Only” generous hands and loving hearts were needed to provide this Christian hospitality to the recovery workers from Massachusetts, which was gratefully and graciously received, making differences in ways we may never know.
When Dave Ganter helped deliver meals the people of St. James prepared, the property owner gave him a walk-through of the progress on their building, which is now the building nearest the covered bridge in Waitsfield. A barber shop that had been closer to the bridge was washed away in the flood – its concrete slab now serves as a patio for the project building. The project building housed four businesses prior to the flood. The Green Closet, a resale boutique, just reopened and an ice cream shop will be opening soon. The other two businesses, a restaurant and consignment shop, need lots of work – one is being used as a construction workshop and the other is being used for lumber and building supplies storage. The owner reported the rebuild group has been very helpful. Dave reported lunches from the Episcopal Churches were served at the project site – breakfast and supper meals were taken to the Vermont Technical College in Randolph where the group was housed.
One of the priorities of the most recent Episcopal Relief and Development grant to the Episcopal Church in Vermont is that we do just that: work together, establishing working relationships that will last beyond this recovery into the future. This is happening on many levels and in many ways. The Irene Recovery Steering Committee recently met to review and approve the first round of grants from the recent Episcopal Relief and Development long-term recovery grant.
You can make an online donation to support flood relief efforts by using this link and following the instructions for setting up an account. Choose the option to donate to “VT Flood Relief 2011.”
Thank you to those who have sent messages of concern and support. We appreciate all the prayers and expressions of support and encouragement.