Last summer, I drove with a friend into the mountains of Vermont to visit the Vermont Law School. It is in the small town of South Royalton, which is also famous as the birthplace of Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormons. Like most small towns in Vermont, South Royalton sits at the foot of steep hillocks and mountains, alongside a river. That day, the river sparkled in the sunshine. The river is fast-flowing at all times, receiving all the rainfall and snowfall from all those mountains, down all those creeks, and channeling all that water towards the nearby Connecticut River. Last summer, it was a beautiful sight.
The past two days, the vistas of Vermont’s beautiful, fast-running creeks and rivers turned horrific. People who are quite accustomed to three foot snow drifts and temperatures hovering near zero in January are not accustomed to tropical storms and neither was their landscape. From Brattleboro in the south, to Royalton in the center of the state, to Montpelier in the north, whole sections of towns were washed away and buildings made unusable, including the state office building in Montpelier that houses most of the state’s government agencies.