West Hartford store falls victim to Tropical Storm Irene - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

West Hartford store falls victim to Tropical Storm Irene

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WEST HARTFORD, Vt. -

A closed sign now permanently greets visitors to the West Hartford Village Store. The wake of Tropical Storm Irene was too much to overcome.

"It is too bad," said Robert Bettis of West Hartford. "A lot of people are going to miss it."

The Bettisville sugar shack right down the road was also hit hard by Irene. A water line marks the height of the White River that day in August 2011 and pictures inside show the devastation left behind.

"Yes, we got hit real good, real good," Bettis said. "But we came back."

The village store, which is more than 100 years old, was no stranger to floods. It's documented at the Hartford Historical Society. A flood nine decades earlier also left its mark, but the business was able to weather the storm.

"The flood of 1927 took out the whole riverbank including a number of buildings, a hotel among them," said Mary Nadeau of the Hartford Historical Society.

The flood of 2011 was a different story. Tropical Storm Irene knocked the store out of business for seven months. But after a complete remodel, the future looked bright. We spoke with owner shortly after it reopened.

"It's been a long time and you know, it's great. The initial response has been fantastic," owner John Farrow told us in March 2012.

But less than a year later that optimism was eroded. We were unable to reach Farrow for comment, but he told the Valley News that Irene-accrued debt put him under. Farrow took out multiple loans for the rebuild, but the business, he told the paper, never bounced back.

"The store was really the only central location where people could gather, exchange information and so forth. So, it will be a real big loss to the community," Nadeau said.

A community that still shows signs of damage.

"There isn't too much left here in West Hartford," Bettis said. "We lost the library, we lost the post office, that's back now, but hey, the economy is not that good."

And when you add in a destructive tropical storm, the numbers, at least for this business, did not make ends meet.

The post office boxes in the back of the store are still accessible through a separate entrance.

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