We Vermonters like to think that we’re good bouncing back from things, and, for the most part, we are. We dig out of blizzards and muddy roads with aplomb, and most full-time Vermonters adapt their lifestyles and skill sets to survive the perpetually sluggish job market that is so characteristic of many rural areas.
But as Hurricane Sandy approached last week, and I watched the reaction of friends and coworkers and family, I realizee that as quickly as our infrastructure recovered from the wrath of then-Tropical Storm Irene, our psyches have not.
I work remotely, communicating with my coworkers in a private chatroom, and for the better part of two days, hurricane speculation and preparation dominated our conversations. Irene had nearly washed away the home of one co-worker and endangered the families of others, and, even though our house and location had protected our family last year, I lived in a tornado-prone area for long enough to know that just because you were unscathed one storm, didn’t mean you wouldn’t get hit the next. Memories of Irene-related evacuations and washouts even haunted our kids, and I saw worry on many young faces at home and around town.
In the end, Vermont held it together. They made the needed plans, shifted schedules, and closed schools closed in anticipation of the potential need for shelters and reduced traffic. And, in the end, Sandy spared Vermont the brunt of the damage. It did remind me, however, that our neighbors to the south who were impacted by this storm will need our help as they rebuild their towns and infrastructure. What they will need even more, however, is continued compassion for the wounds to their spirits that will remain long after roads and buildings are restored.