GM Blog: Irene.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Irene – swift and powerful:  We worked all week to prepare for up to 9” of rain and believed we would have high winds and power outages.  In the end, there was no way to prepare for Irene.

On Sunday, I arrived at the mountain about 8 am and drove to the Snow Lake Dam (south access road.)  As I was driving over, I called Dave Moulton (head of mountain operations) at home.  I can’t remember what I said but I am sure it was something like, “holy crap, you should see Snow Lake!”  PG version.


The thing about this storm that I will always remember is how quickly the waters built and expanded.  Before I knew it, there was water in places I have never seen it before.

By 9 am we were scrambling around trying to put out barricades to close roads and caution people to sink holes.  Several times I caught myself just standing there with my mouth open, shocked at what I was seeing.

A call from Dave Moulton reported he was on his way and made it as far as Wilmington and was stranded on Ray Hill Rd.


As the rain subsided, the waters receded quickly and people started coming out to see what kind of damage the storm had caused.  I thought it was about 5 or 6 pm and looked at the clock to see it was only 1 pm.

Dave Moulton continued to call in from various spots in Wilmington.  As he described what he was seeing, I started to understand that as the waters built, they became more destructive and that downstream would be the bigger problem.

In two short days we have a compiled a complete list of damages and priorities. Our staff have worked non-stop to put parking lots and the mountain back together.  Dave obtained permission to dredge Snow Lake and reclaim some of the materials that washed into it. This will help us rebuild some of the parking lots and will make for more room in the lake for our precious snowmaking water.

Each day more and more staff make it into work.  Not necessarily because their roads have been repaired but because they are determined.  Some have walked and others have driven dirt bikes. Others have driven their cars over paths meant for dirt bikes. Some have been stranded here since Sunday and have taken a room in the hotel.  Other staff are still living in the Twin Valley shelter.  Many of our staff have moved in with their friends or family.  In general, no one is complaining because it doesn’t take long to find someone who is less fortunate and our hearts go out to them.  I think the Mount Snow Valley is taking excellent care of one another and I am extremely proud to be a part of this community.

We have had hundreds of people ask about the Brewer’s Festival and we are firm believers in the saying, “the show must go on!”  However, in the wake of Tropical Storm Irene we have had to take a very close look at not only our infrastructure but that of our community and State and we have made the decision to cancel the Brewer’s Festival scheduled for this Labor Day Weekend.

Already, our Valley and the entire state are making great strides to repair and rebuild.  During times like these you learn quickly that a small state like VT has tremendous resources and willpower.  We believe that there will be limited access to our valley by the weekend but are not confident that we have the resources to host an event as large as the Brewer’s Festival.

Mount Snow as a whole sustained minimal damage relative to the surrounding area, but there is still significant work to be done.  In addition, our supply lines for the food, beverage and equipment have essentially been cut-off for the short-term.

We know some of you will be in the Valley this weekend and we are working hard to open as many services as possible.  Our golf course has already reopened and we plan to open the Canyon Express for mountain biking (a few trails) and the Grand Summit Express for scenic chairlift rides.

Our 6-pack bubble chairlift construction suffered very little damage and as soon as supplies and equipment can gain access to the mountain, construction will resume.

Thank you for all of your kind words and support - we will keep you posted on how things are progressing with the recovery.

- Kelly
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