As George Cocuzzo surveys his property in Braintree, he says his family was looking forward to a holiday weekend, but instead are having Tropical Storm Irene flashbacks.
"Well, I was just saying at breakfast this morning I had almost everything cleaned up from Irene-- it has taken me two years. Now we have it all back again," Cocuzzo said.
Cocuzzo says around 10:30 p.m. Wednesday, a rainstorm quickly took a turn for the worse. The brook running alongside the family's property began spilling over the banks. But police say the real damage resulted from a massive culvert upstream.
"There was a culvert that kind of got stuck in the river and forced the water out of the river. The water took out a section, basically their front yard, and water was diverted out of the river into the first floor of the residence," Vt. State Police Sgt. John Helfant said.
And for the 15 friends and family members at the home, they say it all happened so quickly they had little time to react.
"I had already gone to bed, and about an hour later everyone was screaming and holding the front door because it was all around the house and the water was 2 feet up the front door," Cocuzzo said.
Before the river reached the house, the family was able to move six of seven parked cars. The remaining car was totaled. As the water's intensity increased, the access road and bridge were washed away. But the family says they were more focused on the chaos inside the house.
"Water started to come in the house-- it was something out of a movie," Tom O'Callaghan said. "It started going down the hallways, started getting into rooms. We were worried about electrical shock. It was pretty dicey for a while."
Police say several rescue teams responded to the house, but were unable to reach the property. The house was surrounded by rushing water, and police say the family was safest inside the home. Those trapped inside were able to get out Thursday morning.
"The road was out and it was very scary," O'Callaghan said. "We have some elderly people here, we have some kids here-- it was a little traumatic for them. It was scary."
Aside from his car, O'Callaghan says with time the damages can be fixed. But what is most important, he says, is that no one was injured and they will find a way to make the best of the holiday weekend.
"It's a tradition; we've done it for years and years and we love doing it. And it's just not going to happen this year," O'Callaghan said. "But we're pretty resilient people. We are going to get together and go to a house up the road and we will have a lot of fun up there. We'll make the most of it."
The road running by the house is a class-3 town road, and the homeowner says he hopes barriers can be installed to prevent future flooding.
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