Saturday, August 27, 2016

Cavendish: 5 Years After Irene

View of the "Cavendish Canyon" on Route 131
Few will forget what they were doing on Sunday, August 28, 2011 as the pounding rain went from being a late summer storm to massive flooding. With roads either flooded or destroyed, Cavendish was isolated by tropical storm Irene. There was a period of time when no one could get in or out of town unless it was by air.

 The town’s infrastructure was crippled- no water, power or sewage with every road way impacted- displacing residents and delaying the start of school by a week, since Cavendish Elementary was being used as a shelter. For 10 days, the town came together to assess, clean, rebuild and care for one another. Though people were returning to work, this was just the beginning of a long process to put the town back in order. 

Through the incredible efforts of many volunteers, the town office and the National Guard, within 10 days the shelter was closed and people were housed, even if it was temporarily. By Nov. 4 (a little over two months) the gaping hole on Route 131, affectionately known as the Cavendish Canyon, was fixed and open to traffic and by the end of January-five months later- all of the displaced homeowners were back in their residences.

Town manager Rich Svec and his staff arranged for and worked with FEMA and other state agencies to restore the roadways and town infrastructure without incurring any lasting debt for the town. In fact, the last two Irene related FEMA repair projects- Cavendish Gulf Road railroad embankment and the bridge to Meadow Brook Camp,  will be completed this fall.

Five years later, it is fascinating to look at the “then” and “now.” The ravages of the flood are still visible, particularly where the “Cavendish Canyon” took place.

Greven Field was destroyed
Large parts of the Big Green
Monster went down the river.

The destruction to Greven Field was devastating to the kids. However, a group of volunteers raised money, including funding from the Boston Red Sox to repair the fields and make them better than ever.  

Car upside down on Depot St.  in Proctorsville 

The Episcopal Church on Depot St. Proctorsville
lost their Parish Hall and sustained damage to the Church.
St. James Methodist offered their church for the Gethsemane Parish to use. 
Gethsemane Church today with the new
Parish Hall attached to the church. 

Rt 131 as it looks today.
The Cavendish Historical Society’s exhibit from 2012 Cavendish’s Response and Recovery to Irene can be seen as the CHS Museum (open Sundays 2-4 pm or by appointment). In honor of the all the brownies that were dropped off at the shelter, CHS will have brownies for visitors on Sunday, Aug. 28.

To learn more about the flood, check out:
• Cavendish Update blog posts starting on Aug. 26, when the town was encouraged to prepare for the pending hurricane. 

• Cavendish Flood website created by the 2012-2013 CTES fourth graders 

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