Statewide Clean-up Day brings response - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Statewide Clean-up Day brings response

Rochester, Vermont - October 22, 2011 

Cynthia Ryan spent Saturday morning organizing volunteers for the statewide clean-up day.

"If you're in Rochester dealing with the flood every conversation you have with everyone eventually comes back to the flood," Ryan said.

Two weeks ago Governor Shumlin called volunteers from around the state to pitch in again Saturday, hoping for one last push before winter weather sets in. For Ryan, this is just like every other Saturday, but this time with nearly ten times the work force.  "Last weekend only 20 or so volunteers showed up we were hoping for 150 but I think we got," Ryan said. 

Forty homes in Rochester sustained damage from Irene. Eight of those are not going to be rebuilt. One of those homes belongs to John Graham. He spent Saturday sifting through debris where his home once stood.  "A number of books I was able to save, the furniture was just splinters," Graham said. He said he comes back to his former home to regain closure, but the images still haunt him. "It still feels like a punch in the stomach, it brings back that day of dread."

The Governor also made his way to Stockbridge, Bethel and Sharon Saturday. If you are looking for ways to volunteer, most town offices can point you in the right direction of where help is needed.

Cynthia Ryan says Rochester is like another world compared to places unaffected by Irene. "It's hard to believe that there are places that don't get what's going on here still," she said.

Rochester, like other communities, will be ravaged for years to come -- homes ripped apart and families displaced. Ryan says she hopes to see the Woodlawn Cemetery restored. Twenty-five graves were disturbed by the storm, she says the price tag for the cemetery alone is approximately one million dollars, the cemetery's annual budget tops out at 14-thousand dollars.  "It's on our minds constantly, that's our reality right now," she said.

It's a community that will take time to rebuild, but volunteers Saturday hope there's at least some difference a day can make.

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