- File: Jeb Wallace-Brodeur
- The State Office Complex after Tropical Storm Irene
Waterbury residents are commemorating and celebrating a decade of regrowth and recovery on the 10th anniversary of Tropical Storm Irene.
In late August 2011, the storm dumped 11 inches of rain in Vermont in a 24-hour period, killed six people, destroyed 500 miles of roads, damaged or washed away 277 bridges, cut off access to 13 communities, flooded 3,500 homes and businesses, and swamped 17 mobile home parks.
The Winooski River, which runs through downtown Waterbury, overflowed its banks, flooding the extensive complex of Victorian-era state office buildings where 1,500 people worked. It displaced 50 patients from the Vermont State Hospital and covered the village's main drag with mud and silt.
It cost millions of dollars to repair the State Office Complex and other buildings, and to renovate the town's historic library building so that it could accommodate the town's municipal offices, which were also flooded.
Starting on Thursday, Waterbury will celebrate the themes of resilience and transformation with three days of events. Up first: a concert and a moment of recognition. On Friday, Waterbury is closing lower Stowe Street for live music and guest speakers.
The town is celebrating more than just its recovery from the devastating storm, noted organizer Barbara Farr, the town's transportation liaison. Downtown Waterbury has also suffered through a decade of major road construction projects, including the creation of a traffic roundabout at the north end of town and the replacement of century-old water pipes and other infrastructure on the main road through the village.
Meanwhile, the community, like every other, has endured the pandemic. Farr would like to think the event is marking the end of that, too.
"We're now able to get somewhat back to normal," Farr said. "We don't know where it's going to end up going, but at least the restaurants are open, and people are cautiously optimistic about normalcy coming back to the community."
To Farr, the three days of events are a testament to Waterbury's citizens, who sprang into action as soon as the flooding began.
"The volunteers who stood up to try to bring the community back were strong, they were courageous, and they were determined," said Farr.
For more information, visit waterburyworks.com/celebrate.