The winds of Pleasant Valley in Underhill, Vt., are well known if you live there and legendary if you do not. Over a week ago, October 29-30, we experienced the wind power through our valley, hollering and screaming like the wicked witch of the East, but unbeknownst to us, the winds shared their gusty bellows throughout the northern parts of New England, and Vermont was hit hard. Power went out Sunday night as we all slept. Many of us woke up to dark homes and no idea of the time.
This is not unusual for Pleasant Valley. We have clocked wind gusts at 100 mph and the noise is amazing as it whips around the hills of Mount Mansfield and then unleashes in the valleys below. We lose power and get it back a day or two later. The worst-case scenario was seven days without electricity. On October 29-30, others experienced the winds power through their towns and cause the outages we are accustomed to. But these outages were statewide, and many people were without electricity for two to three days, while others were without it for a week.
On October 30, as I drove around Cambridge, Underhill, Jericho, and Richmond I saw trees down and power lines with trees lying across them. In some places phone lines were ripped down and lying on the ground. Then I came into Stowe and found the same scenario. The whole town was eerily quiet. It had been hopping just days before, with a plethora of leaf peepers. Now a silence had fallen upon the town. Businesses were closed and there was very little traffic on the roads.
I, however, was very impressed with Stowe Beverage. Two gentlemen were standing outside with the door open and a sign that said Cash Only. That had me at doors open, and I strolled in and grabbed some Heady Topper. As I was about to hand over cash the lights came on. Then the alarms on all of the stores in that complex set off, and there was a high-buzzing sound permeating the air.
I had my Heady Topper and I was happy the liquor store now had lights so others would come by as well. But for the most part, five days later, power was still out for many. It is very quiet driving through the Notch, and the usual traffic coming up and down the Mountain Road on both sides of the hill was surreal and peaceful.
After living in Pleasant Valley for 24+ years and losing power several times, we finally invested in a manual transfer switch and a generator. I can honestly say it was one of the best purchases we have ever made. We have limited lights, but the essentials are there—water, refrigeration, gas stove, heat, oh and TV, and yes, we watched the World Series.
For most, the power is back, and for others like us, that generator is going to run for a few more days (we do turn it off when we sleep and when we leave in the morning).
Now the clean-up begins. We Vermonters Power Through and keep moving forward, and now there is a lot to do. I must admit the silence was kind of nice and the lack of traffic in the Notch was great, but it does make me appreciate the day-to-day stuff we take for granted.
We may have lost a lot of trees, a few structures, and a car or two, but thankfully, no one died. Mostly we were inconvenienced. Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, we have seen an inkling of what you are going through and our thoughts are with you as you power through your own recovery.