Twelve months ago, Route 100 in Pittsfield was a postcard for destruction. But as you drove down the street, it was more like a scene out of a Norman Rockwell painting. Townspeople came together on the green to eat, to teach and to thrive as an island community cut off from the rest of the state.
"Everybody came there," resident Roger Stevens said. "They brought food, we cooked the food, we ate the food and it was really comforting. It was like coming home."
Stevens owns the Pitt-Stop store, and while the town was without access to the outside world he stayed open, accepting barters and IOUs so people could get what they needed.
"So we took out a pad of paper, we wrote down your name. If you charged $7, we wrote down $7. When it was all over everybody went to the bank and paid us," Stevens said.
Inside the Pitt-Stop, it's back to business as usual, but on the far wall of the store-- a tribute to the tough days that showed the town's true colors.
"This really is a little summary of what went on and you don't see anybody crying. You don't see anybody really upset, you just see everybody working hard and helping everybody out," Stevens said.
And when the isolation was all over and life for the town crept back to normal, Stevens says the spirit of togetherness still remained and has yet to go away.
"This town stayed amazing," he said. "And I hear those same stories of other towns in Vermont. It's a Vermont thing."
But it's not a story with a perfect ending. One year later, Route 100 looks eerily the same.
Still present in Pittsfield-- a daily reminder of Irene's damage. In one home, a microwave still sits on the counter, dishes still in the sink and the family in limbo, tied up in FEMA red tape unable to move forward.
"They are such a big organization it's not easy to maneuver within their paperwork and everything," Pittsfield Town Clerk Patty Haskins said. "And I don't think common sense always rules. And that's the hard part."
Until they get the say so from FEMA, these homeowners can't do anything for fear of losing funding from a possible buyout.
But, when these homeowners needed help, their neighbors were right there to lend a hand. And Stevens says they still are.
"Because this is like our family. This is our town, this is our people," he said.
And this past Sunday, Pittsfield had a town shutdown day-- much like the days immediately after Irene. Everyone brought food and gathered on the green and they say it was a good way to renew their energy and their spirit to keep it going until the homeowners still struggling find resolve.
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