Monday, July 15, 2024

One Year later: Hardwick infrastructure fixes a work in progress

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HARDWICK, Vt. (WCAX) – With hundreds of millions of dollars in infrastructure damage from the July 2023 storm, many communities are still working on repairs from last year, which some officials say can be a frustratingly slow process.

The town of Hardwick was nearly cut off in the wake of last July’s flooding. A swath of washed-out major roads, landslides, and a compromised water treatment plant still show signs of the high water mark.

“Was a lot of, you know, thinking on our feet and trying to figure out how we were going to make things work,” said Hardwick Town Manager David Upson, who along with other community members, quickly got to work got to work assessing the damage. “We had large culverts that had washed out, bridges that had washed out, our retaining wall on Main Street had washed out.”

The memories still linger for local residents like Cale Bagley. “Water will come up over the road there first, and it’s like… oh, like flashback all over again. All my friends started texting each other like, boy it’s rain, and all day again today. So yeah, definitely left a big impact on a lot of people,” he said.

“The water was rushing down and coming down into the road where it washed out, and it looked like a mini Niagara Falls. It was pretty awful,” said David Kelley of Greensboro.

Recovery has been slow. Town officials say Hardwick has had around 12 large infrastructure projects in the last 20 years. The flooding left them with 12 at once.

After Irene, VTrans was no stranger to rebuilding. Data-driven approaches were taken to build back better, and officials say those repairs have held up. “We saw an inundation of water in a lot of the same areas and so we’re really pleased to see a lot of our structures withholding from the storm or not being damaged by the storm to the degree that it was before,” said VTrans’ Ashley Atkins.

Upson hopes the same progress can be made in Hardwick, where washed-out bridges and landslides are still visible. He says the rivers have so much sediment built up that they need to expand floodplains. “We have we have to find ways for water, find places for water to flood. We need to find open land in places for the water to move,” he said.

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