Owners of destroyed Hardwick hotel have no plans to rebuild

Published: Jul. 12, 2023 at 1:38 PM EDT
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HARDWICK, Vt. (WCAX) - Hardwick and surrounding towns have been nearly inaccessible due to washed-out roads but conditions started to improve Wednesday. But one local hotel hit by the floodwaters will not be coming back.

“We had guests here. We evacuated. A bunch had friends they could go see,” said Freda Hollyer, who along with her husband has owned the Inn by the River for six years.

She says they turned it from a vacant building to a place people enjoyed visiting. “We had a little firepit area, we had the river to enjoy and listen to, we had an indoor pool --and people just really liked that,” Hollyer said.

But the river became less enjoyable Monday night as it rose above the banks into the parking lot and building. That’s when they decided it was time for everyone to get out.

“We just took enough stuff for the night because we figured we were coming back in the morning,” Hollyer said.

The couple initially left their two dogs behind, under the impression they weren’t welcome in the shelter. Upon learning that wasn’t true, they went back and saw just how bad the damage was going to be. “The roof had come down in the kitchen, so my husband had to crawl in there and get him out of the crate -- that was pretty dicey,” Hollyer said. Both dogs are healthy and with the Hollyers.

“While we were shooting video, several community members were at the inn, still in disbelief of the damage. “Those were huge rocks, and if people don’t believe in the power of water, all you have to do is look at that,” said Ron.

Town Manager David Upson says about a dozen other businesses are still being impacted by flood damage, though those evacuated from homes have mostly returned. “We still have three households who are still currently unable to get back to their homes,” he said.

Route 15 in Hardwick Tuesday. Courtesy: Paul Cavarretta
Route 15 in Hardwick Tuesday. Courtesy: Paul Cavarretta(wcax)

Upson says they haven’t struggled with supplies or aid, calling the small town with a population of 3,000 “self-sufficient.” “The community rises to the occasion and we all work together and things go smoothly,” he said

As for the Hollyers... “We’re kind of at a loss. We don’t know what to do. We didn’t have flood insurance, so hopefully we get something from FEMA,” Hollyer said.

It’s the second time the inn has been taken out by floodwaters -- the first time was in the ‘70s. After that, the Army Corps of Engineers did some work to redirect the Lamoille River the inn withstood Irene.

The couple, who also live in an adjoining apartment that was damaged, say they have no plans to rebuild.

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