by Guy Page
You’ve never seen debris quite like this.
The sidewalks of downtown Montpelier – iconic State and Main, and many residential side streets – are barely passable as business owners and residents pile wet, filthy debris for removal.
A broken player piano stands outside of chocolate/coffee house Rabble Rouser. Its pedal board lies on the ground. Clean-up personnel can’t resist plinking a few notes.
Outside Bear Pond Books, debris includes cards, papers, shelving – and thankfully, few books. Apparently, most of the inventory was rescued. But not all – in the debris lies a copy of Ann Patchett’s “These Precious Days.”
The streets are dry and mud-covered. The air is full of dirt – not dust, but “dirty,” likely contaminated dirt that just minutes earlier was sun-dried silt left behind by floodwaters. Indoors, mold is becoming a real problem in the ancient basements. Many people are wearing masks. Montpelier was dubbed ‘Maskpelier’ during Covid due to its residents’ propensity for wearing them seemingly everywhere, all the time. But today, their use is unquestioned. Some who don’t wear them soon find themselves coughing.
The U.S. Post Office and federal building is closed up tight, with a big steel barrier and sandbags preventing access to the front door.
Montpelier Youth Conservation Corps workers are busy mucking out basements and passing out bottles of water and Domino’s pizza to grimy workers. A pair of teenaged MYCC workers report that the Savoy Theater has lost many reel-to-reel films stored in its basement.
Another volunteer, WDEV radio host and former lobbyist Kevin Ellis of East Montpelier, remarks on both the challenges and resilience of the shop owners.