Hardwick, News

Tropical Storm Irene, 2011, Flooded Hardwick Streets

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photo courtesy Hardwick Historical Society
Sawyer Connelly caught this image of the water flowing under the Cottage Street Bridge.

[The following is an excerpt from the Summer 2023 edition of The Hardwick Historical Society Journal, reprinted with permission to provide historical perspective on recent events.]

by Elizabeth H. Dow, Hardwick Historical Society

HARDWICK – In 2021, Kevin O’Connor of VTDigger wrote that: “Hurricane Irene tracked from New York City north-northeast across the states of New York and Massachusetts before entering Vermont as a Tropical Storm during the evening of Sunday, August 28, 2011. Throughout the early morning, winds gusted to nearly 60 mph over Vermont[….] The National Weather Service reported record-setting rainfall ranging from four to eleven inches throughout the state.

[In Vermont, the storm] crumbled more than 500 miles[….]destroyed nearly $750 million in property (a figure equal to almost two-thirds of that year’s state general fund budget) and damaged 200 bridges, 450 utility poles, 600 historic buildings, 1,000 culverts, 2,400 road segments, 3,500 homes and 20,000 acres of farmland.”1

In a span of eighteen hours, the Hardwick area received between four and six inches of rain.2 The rain washed out roads and caused streams and rivers of all sizes to flood, causing significant damage to crops in fields along the river’s course. The Lamoille River flooded Wolcott Street and Cooper Brook flooded South Main Street. A landslide along Route 14 north closed that road.

A combination of high-wind gusts and saturated ground that could not hold trees and poles upright caused isolated power and telephone outages.3 The sewage plant, however, kept up with the flow. Typically the plant processed 370,000 gallons of water in a day, but Irene sent between 1.3 and 1.9 million gallons through the system.4

With warnings from radio, television, and the internet, everyone knew the storm would hit them, and the community planned ahead. People stocked up on food, water, and batteries.5 Those living in flood zones made arrangements with family and friends to take them in for a few days. The town and school system set up a shelter at the high school. After the storm, a few used it as a place to get coffee or use the telephone, but only three people spent the night there.

Schools moved opening day to Tuesday, August 30, instead of Monday, August 29.6

Compared to much of the state, the storm hit the Hardwick area fairly lightly and the community had prepared for it. As a result, the storm caused physical damage, but little trauma.

1 Kevin O’Connor, “What Tropical Storm Irene can teach Vermont 10 years later,” VTDigger, August 22, 2021.

https://vtdigger.org/2021/08/22/tropical-storm-irene-vermont/ Viewed July 16, 2023.

2 Irene: Reflections of Weathering the Storm, (Montpelier: Irene Recovery Office, 2013), 4. https://floodready.

vermont.gov/sites/floodready/files/documents/2013-IRO-final-report%20reduced.pdf.

3 Tyler Molleur, “Irene Says Good Night after Destroying Roads, Damaging Houses,” Hardwick Gazette, August 31, 2001, 1.

4 Tommy Gardner, “Day after Irene’s Visit,” Hardwick Gazette, August 31, 2011, 1, 5.

5 Tyler Molleur, “Irene Says Good Night after Destroying Roads, Damaging Houses,” Hardwick Gazette, August 31, 2001, 1.

6 Tyler Molleur. “Irene Says Good Night after Destroying Roads, Damaging Houses,” Hardwick Gazette, August 31,

2001, 1.

[The Hardwick Historical Society Journal goes to the mailbox of every member quarterly. To join, go to hardwickvthistory.org]

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