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VJA in the news!

Postby Scott Hatch » Wed Aug 31, 2011 12:46 pm

Great job VJA :up:

Published 8/31/2011

Vermont Air National Guard pilot Chad Sample unloads water and meal packs at Green Mountain National Forest Ranger Station in Rochester, Vt., yesterday. Rochester was cut off by flood damage until yesterday afternoon. (Valley News — James M. Patterson)

ADGRPID:131992|SERVTYPE:1
Vt. Storm Relief Finds a Way
By Alex Hanson
Valley News Staff Writer

Bethel -- It's fair to say that people who drive Jeeps and four-wheelers through the woods feel vindicated.

Tim “TJ” Shonio drove to Bethel from Rochester yesterday over Mt. Hunger in his jacked-up Jeep Cherokee. His girlfriend, Brandi Smith, has a house in East Randolph that they hadn't seen since Tropical Storm Irene rolled through on Sunday, and they also used the trip to pick up some food.

“If it wasn't for all of us that do jeeping, none of these roads would be open,” Shonio said.

Shonio was part of a second flood yesterday, a wave of people rolling out of the isolated hills in Bethel, Stockbridge and Rochester in search of gas, food, fellowship and other necessities. They arrived in downtown Bethel on ATVs, in Jeeps, on bicycles and on foot.

Vermont State Police, with the help of members of the Vermont Jeep Association, yesterday morning evacuated two men from Rochester who needed dialysis, then headed back to evacuate two people from Stockbridge with medical needs, said Trooper Chris Blais, a member of the Jeep club.

“We have these lovely volunteers here to help us facilitate this,” Blais said.

It took a while for the state police to figure out how to put the Jeep club members to use. There were nine Jeeps in the parking lot at the Royalton state police barracks by noon yesterday. After waiting for direction until 1:30 or so, a group of five left on their own to open up overland routes to Rochester. The last pair didn't leave until 5 p.m., on a mission to ferry 15 cans of gas to town generators in Stockbridge and Rochester.

“Everybody's looking for something to do,” said Brian Carpenter, president of the Jeep association and a Richmond, Vt., resident.

Today might have been the last day off-road vehicles would provide the only access to towns cut off by flooding. A road link was established to Rochester through Warren late yesterday.

But so far, most of the materials heading back to isolated, flood-stricken communities were hauled there by residents.

Brian Booth towed a trailer behind his four-wheeler to bring gas back to his home on Bethel's Brink Hill. His generator powers a dental lab that he runs from his home.

“Most of my customers are in Rutland,” Booth said. “I don't know if I'm going to have any business.”

Bethel teemed with activity yesterday as ATVs drove up and down Main Street, a fleet of dump trucks hauled stone to washed-out roads and residents from the hills who hadn't been able to get to town greeted one another.

“It's surreal,” Booth said. “It's like some post-apocalyptic nightmare that you see in the movies.”

Penny Griffin and her son Brian Griffin rode their four-wheelers into Bethel yesterday to pick up some supplies.

Other than walking, the four-wheelers were the only way they were going to get down Lilliesville Brook Road from the Lympus section of Bethel. The ATVs are useful, but they're no substitute for a paved road.

“My daughter-in-law's due to have a baby in three to four weeks,” Penny Griffin said. “I'm a little nervous about that. She can't ride a four-wheeler. That’s a no-no.”

Jamie and Lisa Floyd made the first outside contact with the remote neighborhood of Lympus Four Corners. They walked up with backpacks of fresh water.

“We wanted to make contact and let them know they were not forgotten,” said Lisa Floyd, whose parents, John and Dorothy Manning, live in Lympus Four Corners. One of their goals was to bring her parents back down into town, but “they refused to leave,” Floyd said.

“Happily,” Jamie Floyd said, “they don't need anything.” The dozen or so families have banded together, setting up a generator at the home of a diabetic woman who needs to keep her insulin refrigerated, and cooking at homes that have gas stoves. Plans were afoot to hold a block party last night to cook any remaining perishable foods.

In addition to the water, the Floyds carried news from the outside world, an account of the flooding and photos on their cell phones. “They were really hungry for news of the flood,” Jamie Floyd said.

A group of Stockbridge residents managed to traverse Mt. Hunger on a steep woods road with a four-wheel-drive pickup towing a trailer. They had loaded up with a couple of generators, several cans of gas and chests full of ice.

Jim Munyon, a Stockbridge firefighter, said he planned to take generators to homes in his neighborhood so people could run their refrigerators and freezers cold.

“We're grouping together pretty well right now,” Munyon said, adding “I'm just doing what I can do.”

Stockbridge set up a shelter Sunday night at the Gaysville Community Church and 18 people stayed overnight. People have either gone back home or to stay with friends.

Route 107, the main road to Stockbridge, is still closed past the Bethel line, but Stan Stawicki and Steven Lowinski braved it on bicycles yesterday to fetch groceries from Bethel. Lowinski's family came up from Massachusetts because they thought Vermont would be safer during Sunday's storm. Now they’re marooned, unable to get their cars onto the road.

“We made a stupid move,” Stawicki said. “We didn't bring one car out.”

The bike ride was essential, he said. Lowinski's girlfriend turned 22 yesterday, “so we had to get an ice cream cake.”
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Re: VJA in the news!

Postby Rafikie » Wed Aug 31, 2011 1:02 pm

:wave: :wave: :wave:
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Re: VJA in the news!

Postby mrfreakinwhite » Wed Aug 31, 2011 1:54 pm

:up:
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Re: VJA in the news!

Postby tammylynn » Wed Aug 31, 2011 3:05 pm

:hello:
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Re: VJA in the news!

Postby dollafab » Wed Aug 31, 2011 3:58 pm

Nice job VJA!
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Re: VJA in the news!

Postby SnowJeeper » Thu Sep 01, 2011 2:53 am

...After waiting for direction until 1:30 or so, a group of five left on their own to open up overland routes to Rochester.


Just to give/share credit where its due on what was a joint Club effort coordinated within hours, those 5 (actually it was 6) are part of our Club (Green Mountain Crawlers), not VJA. That particular group has been out busting ass every day & night since Saturday both helping preparing and with recovery, and have been on the news unnamed several times for what they have done there:

- created a new exit/entrance on the I89 - including bringing in a member owned tractor to ensure equal passage for all vehicles
- rescued a motorist caught in a flash flood
- able to clean existing trails to access 3 stranded communities (Rochester, Stockbridge, & Pittsfield) and were able to bring in supplies and provide people transport.
- assisted the Bethel & South Royalton Fire Depts in their efforts.

They will continue to be out there until no longer needed, thanked or not, most of which are taking unpaid time away from work to help. Just want to give them some thanks as well, even if its not making the papers.

I'm definitely proud to be part of the wheeling community in this State. Both VJA & GMC, as well as several VASA members deserve all the recognition given & then some. :up: :up:

I think our Club needs a better PR dept :oops:
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Re: VJA in the news!

Postby mrfreakinwhite » Thu Sep 01, 2011 8:47 am

I e-mailed it to Del Albright. :mrgreen:
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Re: VJA in the news!

Postby Scott Hatch » Thu Sep 01, 2011 9:48 am

Not trying to take any credit away from any 4-wheelers, just re-posting the article....in that case, great job Green Mountain Crawlers! :hello: :up:
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Re: VJA in the news!

Postby mrfreakinwhite » Thu Sep 01, 2011 10:06 am

"Awesome. Someone really should whip up a short story on this, send it to me if you want, and I’ll get it in a magazine somewhere. J
Good job by all.
Del"
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Re: VJA in the news!

Postby Voodoo Chile » Thu Sep 01, 2011 11:43 am

That is great, I was watching news about the Killington area and thinking that a Jeep could likely still make it thru! Glad you guys were able to help! :up:
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Re: VJA in the news!

Postby Scott » Fri Sep 02, 2011 9:18 am

That's awesome! :hello: :up:
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Re: VJA in the news!

Postby SnowJeeper » Sun Sep 18, 2011 1:00 am

Another Article hit the news :hello:

For those of you at Fall Crawl, Devin was the one playing the guitar and singing at the Summit fire.

http://www.vnews.com/09102011/8030090.htm



Vt. Police Close Improvised Exit on I-89
By Alex Hanson
Valley News Staff Writer


Royalton -- When the White River broke out of its banks, Devin Noyes and some friends were down on Route 107 helping move trailers from Lucky's Trailer Sales to higher ground.


As the river swept debris past them, Noyes wondered how he was going to get back to his parents' home on Cleveland Brook Road.


A state Transportation worker was right there, Noyes said. They asked him if they could cut through the fence on Interstate 89. He said it was OK, so Noyes, Adam and Tim Lyman and their father jumped in a couple of Jeeps and put their bolt-cutters to work.


“We ended up cutting a road,” Noyes, 22, said yesterday. “We told a couple of people and then it spread like wildfire.”


When the history of Tropical Storm Irene's devastation of Vermont is written, there should be a short chapter about the Hillbilly Highway. The improvised exit onto Interstate 89 in Royalton had a brief, eventful life before it was shut down by the state police on Wednesday.


Without the Hillbilly Highway, which was just about half a mile south of Exit 3, residents of Royalton Hill, Johnson Hill and Back River roads in Royalton would have been trapped. Gilman Road was impassable. Back River Road, a direct route to South Royalton, remains washed out, and two bridges that link the back roads to Route 14 are in ruins. “Where I live, we had no other way,” Holly Nash Wolff, who lives on Johnson Hill Road, said yesterday.


The off- and on-ramp for what Noyes and his friends dubbed Exit 23⁄4 skirts the edge of the market garden at the home of Jim and Rachel Bigelow.


“It was amazing how quickly word got around that it was open, and how quickly word got around that it was closed down,” said Rachel Bigelow, who set up a farmstand next to the break in the chain-link fence. The farmers markets she attends in Bethel and Pittsfield were closed or inaccessible.


A state police trooper stopped by while Noyes and friends were cutting open the fence on Aug. 28. They explained to Trooper Chris Blais what they were doing. He promptly told them to carry on.


It probably didn't hurt that Blais, like Noyes and Adam Lyman, is a member of a Vermont Jeep club. Noyes and Lyman are part of Green Mountain Crawlers, whose members helped open roads and rescue people around the state after Irene.


“When the storm had just passed and people couldn't get out, we allowed that to happen,” said Lt. Bill Jenkins, commander of the state police's Royalton Barracks. “It was innovative, and they did what they had to do,” he added.


But once Gilman Road was reopened, a few days after the storm, the need for Exit 2¾ -- or Exit 2½, Exit 2B or Exit 3A as it has been variously called -- diminished.


The state police tried to close the exit a couple of times before it finally stuck on Wednesday. Last Saturday, the state Agency of Transportation even marked the area with cones and a sign saying “Local Traffic Only” in an effort to make the exit safer, Bigelow said.


Now, motorists on Royalton and Johnson hills have to drive on Gilman Road to Bethel, then turn around and drive Route 107 and Route 14 to get back to South Royalton, turning a 3-mile drive into a 15-20 mile slog.


Keeping the exit open for convenience's sake isn't in the cards, Jenkins said.


“It's a pretty big safety issue, really,” he said.


Motorists were making U-turns on the interstate to get to the exit, and people driving off the Hillbilly Highway were tracking a slick layer of mud onto the pavement. The exit wasn't properly marked, Jenkins said, Drivers on the interstate would not expect traffic to merge or exit at that spot.


When a state trooper came by on Wednesday to close it down, he was a bit testy, Bigelow said. A couple members of the town road crew were smoothing out the muddy road, and police, who had already wired the fence shut at least once, were none too pleased about it.


“His exact words to me were ‘What the f--- are you guys doing?' ” Corey Rogers said yesterday. He and his father, Terry Rogers, had helped keep the road in reasonable shape, despite the traffic. People used the road carelessly, and that was its undoing, Terry Rogers said.


“It basically got abused, that's what happened,” he said. The trooper ordered them to make a berm and shut the fence.


The need for an exit onto I-89 between Sharon and Bethel hasn't gone away. There's a plan in the works to put an exit for emergency vehicles where Oxbow Road crosses over the highway, and Exit 2¾ might spur officials to act. There's another impromptu exit for a granite quarry in Bethel, which takes heavy trucks off narrow gravel roads.


For now, Exit 2¾, the Hillbilly Highway, passes into myth. Gas prices being what they are, desire for a shortcut is very real.


“We do wish it was still open,” Holly Nash Woolf said.


That day might come, Terry Rogers said.


“If we have another flood, it'll probably be opened up again.”


Alex Hanson can be reached at ahanson@vnews.com or 603-727-3219

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Re: VJA in the news!

Postby mrfreakinwhite » Mon Sep 19, 2011 8:24 am

posted!
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