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Franklin County begins daunting task of cleaning up after Tropical Storm Irene

FRANKLIN COUNTY, Mass (WGGB) — With limited access to Interstate 91 on Monday, it was time to take to the back roads of Franklin County to try and get a handle on the damage done by Tropical Storm Irene.

We found people hard at work trying to get their lives and livelihoods back to normal.

On a picture perfect summer day here in Western Massachusetts the Deerfield River continued its rapid decent on Monday morning.  The river providing a photo opportunity for some, but still couldn’t hold a candle to the path of destruction that it carved out on Sunday.

We got our first look at the lasting effects of Tropical Storm Irene.  All you had to do was talk to the local business owners in the village to understand Irene’s true magnitude.

Paul St. Martin’s popular West End Pub took a direct hit, and will cost him as the busy fall season approaches.

“To have to close and put people out of work at this time of year right in the middle of our busy season,” said St. Martin.  “We have foliage season coming up. It’s sad to have this happen.”

A few doors down we ran into Joanne Sherburne.  Joanne owns an art gallery and framing shop in the village.  Joanne began cleaning up on Monday heartbroken from the damage done by Irene.

“When I got to the other side of the village and saw what the river was doing,” said Joanne Sherburne, “I couldn’t breath. It was terrifying. Utterly terrifying.”

Up stream from Buckland and Shelburne Falls is where the surging water began its fateful journey.

The Clesson Brook swelled from torrential rains.  It washed away part of Route 112 in upper Buckland.

The water turned cornfields into spill ways, knocking down power lines that crews, from as far away as Michigan, were busy repairing on Monday morning.

And there was the Shulda family cleaning up after the water spilled over onto their property. Paul Shulda told me his father Phil Shulda worked at hydro station #4 located along the Deerfield River. He said the last time things got this bad was the spring rains of 1987.

“Very similar,” said Shulda. “A flash flood that came up as a result of spring thunderstorms.”

“So it’s not the first time, but we thought that with the work that we did out there, and the work that the town did to shore up the stream, that this area would avoid it in the future. But we didn’t.”

mc

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WGGB encourages readers to share their thoughts and engage in healthy dialogue about the issues. Comments containing personal attacks, profanity, offensive language or advertising will be removed. Please use the report comment function for any posts you feel should be reviewed. Thank you.
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