By JOHN FLOWERS
RIPTON — Gov. James Douglas and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) officials are confident that widespread flood damage caused by the Aug. 6 rainstorms will qualify for a major infusion of federal aid.
Douglas and FEMA Regional Administrator Art Cleaves came to that conclusion on Thursday while surveying some of the infrastructure in several Addison County towns, including roads and bridges, that had been devastated by floodwaters.
As the Addison Independent went to press, officials were still tallying up damage in the hard-hit communities of East Middlebury, Ripton, Hancock, Goshen, Granville, Salisbury, Leicester, Bridport and Forest Dale. Authorities said they expected the damage to easily eclipse the $1 million needed to trigger a federal emergency declaration from the White House, thereby paving the way for up to 75 percent reimbursement for flood-related repairs.
“We’ve been to Ripton, East Middlebury and Salisbury and the damage is quite extensive,” Douglas said during an interview Thursday afternoon at Middlebury State Airport, where he quickly boarded one in a convoy of four Vermont Army National Guard helicopters that flew over the destruction.
“I think this is the most significant (natural disaster) in my tenure,” he added.
Road crews have been working overtime to restore access to roads and bridges heavily damaged when the Middlebury River and a collection of other brooks and streams jumped their banks, sending water cascading across already-saturated ground.
Workers on Thursday had restored emergency access to Route 125 between East Middlebury and Hancock, though it may be many more days before regular, two-way traffic resumes on the busy road.
By KATHRYN FLAGG
Editor’s note: The 60th edition of the Addison County Fair and Field Days last week offered, as ever, a smorgasbord of sights, sounds, smells and sensations. With so many events, demonstrations, fried treats and heated competitions to take in, we picked just a few favorites for our readers to savor. Here’s a sampling of what we saw.
The ribbon above April’s stall proudly declares this four-month-old Jersey calf a “novice champion.” She and her handler, Ethan Sausville, 8, of Addison, snagged top honors at the Thursday morning 4-H competition in handling and showmanship. But for the youngest of the Weybridge Willing Workers (WWW), the real marvels in the 4-H Dairy Barn are not the ribbons, but the cows themselves.
Sausville, Matthew Ouellette and Addy Parsons of Weybridge, all 8, crowd around a few of the calves the club is showing this year at the fair. Two little Jerseys, April and Lila, are munching away happily on their grain, perfectly content to let their handlers stroke their backs and necks.
The calves seem pretty happy to be shown, the kids explained — though “sometimes April gets spooked,” Sausville says. She straightens up once her show halter is on, Parsons chimes in.
It’s not easy, they explain — though the calves are sweet-tempered, they can be stubborn.
“You’ve got to really work with them,” Sausville says.
And occasionally, accidents can happen.
“Last year, when I was a PeeWee, I got kicked in the stomach by a really big cow,” Ouellette confides, not without a note of pride. The children confer on the size of the “really big cow” before ultimately deciding she was somewhere along the lines of Cinnamon’s height, gesturing to a massive Jersey lolling in the sawdust a few stalls down from the calves.