Monday, August 29, 2011

East Middlebury Irene Flood Update Part 1

After spending the night at a friend's house we returned to East Middlebury early this morning.  Here's what we found:

departing clouds, otter creek

Otter Creek leaving Middlebury... high but not dangerous.  The crest hasn't arrived here yet, though.  The sky looks nasty, but the clouds were clearing.



East Main Street was not destroyed, or buried in mud.  It was obvious that the river had run down the road, though.  There was some debris:

Flood Deposits

High Water Line

Hard to see above, but there is a high water line near the sidewalk.

Goodrow Lumber Spared

Goodrow Lumber was spared, except for some very minor parking area damage.  Mac's Market across the street was also spared and was open.  They told me they had to open a bit late, but everything was fine.  Nearby, many people were pumping out their basements.  Our home was undamaged, as it is a couple of feet above the road.  Our garden was not damaged by flooding, but was damaged by the groundhog again.  I was hoping it had drowned, but apparently not.

The river is raging, and is almost unrecognizable.  Trees had been uprooted and existing logs have washed away.  A 20' tall, 50' long section of vertical bank was created.

Middlebury River

Here's what it looked like a few weeks ago, when the water was low:

Midd River 1

Note that the young trees to the left were almost completely destroyed  (there is a reason they were young... they are on a gravel bar.  That area floods often).  The leaning sycamore to the right somehow survived the flood.

The flood plain along the river had been buried in mud and debris.

Mud in Forest, Middlebury River

Flood Debris, Middlebury River

Unlike human structures, floodplain forest is well adapted to frequent floods.  This deposit of silt and sand will provide nutrients for the plants, and will benefit the flood-adapted plants in this area such as sycamore, cottonwood, and ostrich fern.

Later today I will check out the gorge and the bridges, and find where the river jumped its banks and flowed down the road.  Unfortunately, homes in that area probably sustained more damage.

Also, if you want to see me as a soggy flood refugee, I was interviewed in Channel 3 news yesterday evening.


  1. Great to see and hear you Charlie, although I wish the circumstances were better! Vermont is really suffering. Hope you are able to return home soon.

  2. We actually were able to come home and everything here was OK. We are truly lucky to have escaped with nothing worse than a night sleeping on a friend's pull-out couch. Many others in Vermont were not so lucky, though...

  3. Glad you're safe! (Also -- great pictures. The clouds are especially dramatic.)

  4. Thanks! Hurricane clouds ARE pretty dramatic at times. Here's another photo, from just after dawn:

  5. thanks charlie. my name is jeff nicklas. i now live in richmond, va but lived in e. middlebury when i was a kid, right on the river. i love that river - had so much fun in it as a kid, and still could. i rode my bike from middlebury to northfield (my sister teaches at norwich) a couple years ago and snapped a couple photos of the river from the plains rd bridege and of our house. such an awesome house. thanks for the photos and glad you're ok.

  6. Glad to hear from you! I love the river, I've been exploring it and watching it change. Apparently the meandering portion of the river has changed a LOT in the last 15 years (and in the last week it has changed tremendously).

    None of the houses along the river were damaged aside from basement damage, so I'm sure your house is still standing. Hopefully the river doesn't decide to come down East Main ever again.

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