This week there has been many reminders about the anniversary of Hurricane Irene. Today, August 28 is the actual day of this historical event in Vermont and Okemo history. To say this was unexpected would be true. I recall that day as being one to waking up to some rain and being mindful that we were expecting 3-4 inches of rain. What we got was closer to 8 inches of rain.
There was so much that was happening that Sunday. Getting to Okemo in the morning, it was obvious that there were problems developing and things were happening quickly. Roads were washing out, water was going through buildings in the base area, pumps stations were being inundated and we were witnessing a crumbling of roads and bridges. There were many Okemo staff that came into to help the situation and others would have if they could get in. By the time the seriousness of the situation was evident, many roads were washed out and travel was virtually impossible.
Okemo was lucky. By the time the water had receded, we were looking at damage of between $300 - $400,000. Our marketing and lodging offices had been flood damaged and we also received some damage to roads, parking lots, some golf course bridges as well as other drainage culverts. Many in Vermont suffered far worse. Some of our staff lost their homes, many had flooded basements or roads and still others were without power or access for over a week.
They say during this type of life challenges, the good always come out in humans. This was so evident after Irene. Neighbor helped neighbor, those who could donated money, food and equipment. Roads were made passable, culverts repaired and hugs were given. Okemo staff rallied around each other to help those who were left with so little. Okemo held the next Jackson Gore Music Series and over $15,000 was raised in donations and supplies. Okemo guests were calling asking where they could donate clothing or food as they had seen the photos of water charging down Main Street.
On this one year anniversary of Hurricane Irene, I wanted to take the time to thank all of you who stepped up to help those Vermonters in need. Your support was greatly appreciated. I also want to thank the entire Okemo staff. What you all did to help others and put Okemo back together after Irene was notable and so very much appreciated. The long hours and extra effort as we headed into the winter season were tough on everyone, but the work was done and when winter came, Okemo was ready. Thank you very much.
Bruce SchmidtOkemo GM