Op/Ed

Editorial: The gift of hardship

ANGELO LYNN

Pre-Christmas storm Elliot walloped Addison County with high winds, wet snow, plunging temps and, for many, several days without power. Winds with gusts to 70-mph and higher (135 mph on top of Mount Mansfield in Stowe, and we’re told residents clocked over 80 mph on Lake Dunmore) blew hundreds of trees onto power lines; snapped towering pines off their trunks; uprooted hundreds more and generally caused havoc from early Friday morning (3 a.m. to 5 a.m.) as power went off to almost 100,000 Vermont households and stayed off through Christmas day and into late Monday, Dec. 26, for the last few hundred — many of whom lived in Addison County. 

While living without power always presents hardships, Vermonters were mostly fortunate: while Buffalo alone suffered 28 casualties in the same storm system, there was one storm-related death in Vermont; with the hurricane force winds came warm weather into the high 40s that first 12 hours, allowing many homeowners to clear debris blocking roadways and make necessary home repairs before temps plunged to single digits late Friday night into Saturday. While we got a few inches of wet snow Friday night, it was just enough to blanket the countryside (covering much of the tree litter) to make a white Christmas, and many ski areas received more than a foot of snow during a critical Christmas week.

Vermonters will have suffered damage to material things and structures, but as storm damage goes, it could have been much worse. Utilities, meanwhile, will bear the brunt of the cost.

Praise goes to the 400 or so linemen, tree removal personnel, local plumbers and others from throughout the region as they supported GMP’s own crews in dealing with the widespread power outages. A thousand thanks have gone out to those workers in many ways, and thousands more were said in silent whispers — or loud cheers — each time a utility truck rolled into a neighborhood, or the power came back on, perhaps just minutes ahead of a Christmas Day celebration.

Often, as in this storm, the gift of hardship is understanding how fortunate we are.

Angelo Lynn

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