In late August 2011, Vermonters felt the 5.8 magnitude earthquake centered in Virginia. Earthquakes are rare in Vermont, so that was a bit of a novelty. A few days after the earthquake we experienced the tail of Hurricane Irene, which was “merely” a tropical storm by the time it arrived. We expected some wind and rain, and maybe some power outages. Yet Vermont’s topography meant we suffered as much as if our state were oceanfront property. The several inches of rain that fell in southern and central counties funneled down mountainsides to our small streams. Even our largest rivers quickly reached flood stage. The damage was quick, devastating, and unexpected by most.
Emergency workers quickly mobilized; communities rallied. Eventually all the state’s roads reopened, but it took months before the hardest hit areas were accessible again. Villages continue to struggle as businesses attempt to reopen after navigating the mazes of insurance coverage and the intricacies of claims for flood damage in areas where flooding seemed all but impossible. Families mourn not only lost real estate and personal possessions, but irreplaceable heirlooms.
We all do what we know best. Pam Druhen, an enterprising quilt artist, spearheaded the Winter Warmth Project shortly after this disaster unfolded. I’d recently discovered the “postcard” quilt that I started as a Girl Scout, so I donated that to Pam’s call for unfinished quilt tops knowing that it was unlikely I’d get a bed sized quilt top completed anytime soon.
Some questioned my lack of sentimentality, but I’d already decided that my first quilt was a fitting donation for a family that had lost all the tangible reminders of their own family history. As my cousin’s young son used to say, “sharing is caring.”