Hurricane Irene Headaches

It’s been a week since Hurricane Irene hammered New England as a tropical storm, and a lot has been written about the storm’s impact. So many people have suffered. In Connecticut there are still people without electrical power for the eighth day. Hopefully this is a sad but necessary wake up call to improve Connecticut’s electrical infrastructure. Years of neglect and underinvestment have left us with one of the weakest grids in the nation. At Horst Engineering, we had a power outage last Monday and the first half of Tuesday, we sent most of our employees home, and we thought that was a setback.

With the month ending, a four-day work week coming, and numbers to meet; we were concerned. However, that impact is nothing compared to the devastation wrought upon people elsewhere in the region. Vermont and New Hampshire were the hardest hit areas. The torrential rain induced flooding caused the most devastation. Debbie and I saw the aftermath up close this past weekend when we traveled to the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Roads are closed all over Vermont and New Hampshire. Route 302, Route 112 (Kancamagus Highway), and Pinkham B Road/Dolly Copp Road were all closed because of washed out bridges. Roads were undermined. Trails were turned into streams.

As natural disasters go, Irene was a significant one for New England. The winter of 2010-2011 was challenging for us and this summer’s weather pattern has been difficult too. We had the wettest August on record and September has started off the same way. On our drive back from New Hampshire/Vermont, we experienced more tropical weather in the form of torrential rain. The waterlogged ground and streams can’t take any more moisture. The people of New England are resilient, but it doesn’t make the suffering any more palatable.

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