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Discouragement and Hope: Hurricane Damage in Windsor, VT…

On Wednesday, August 31, 2011, as I learned of more places that might have been in trouble from the storm, I began to contact clients and acquaintances like Paul Biebel, from Biebel Builders/Prudent Living to see if they were ok or if they needed any help…

I want to share this story of the outcome here:

Subject: Are you all ok?

Hi Tim and Paul – I am just hearing of the places that were hurt by all of this devastation and am concerned about you there is Windsor. Please let me know that you are ok.. I put out a post on my site that might be worth reading for you and your business. I have sent it to authorities in the state & hope it will help to rebuild after the cleanup.. with energy efficiency as part of the process for rebuilding…

If you did not fare so well – what can i do to offer some assistance?

Nancy Rae, Green Energy Times

This am (Sept. 1, 2011) I received this response:

Hi Nancy. Thanks for asking.    We got hit pretty hard.   You can see it on   http://www.youtube.com/paulbiebel (Be sure to watch all 3 videos) It’s been overwhelming to Kathie and I but something incredible happened last night.

I hope you have a minute to read this amazing account.   I had gone home early and was just looking around wondering where to start tearing my house apart
or even how to start cleaning the mess outside.  There was and old friend visiting when I arrived.  He was checking out a  covered bridge that was now a lawn ornament.
Then he said that he came to help and asked what he could do.   I was just tired and really just wanted to sit on my porch and smoke a cigar.

All my tools were lost because they were in my barn that is now resting in a thousand pieces scattered over a mile down the brook.  So I really didn’t have much for tools to do much of anything.
I’m not looking forward to cleaning that mess up, but it will be a cold day in you know where,  before I let my trash sit on my neighbor’s property.    He’s got enough of his own to clean up.
I had intended to do that first, but it was just too wet and muddy to get down by the brook to start picking things up.

So I decided, instead,  to get started on tearing out the kids bedrooms and our family exercise/ TV  room.  We had  found out earlier in the day that we didn’t have  flood insurance.
It wasn’t required because we aren’t in the 100 yr flood zone.

That was a big blow and it weighed heavily enough to just leave the office and go home.   I just wanted to turn on a radio, listen to music
and be left alone but it was also good to see him.   I had a flat bar and an old toy hammer in my garage; nothing I would ever want to be seen using.  Bu we got started
removing the first little piece of molding at the floor in order to start the bigger process of removing sheetrock , wet insulation and mud and getting all the framework exposed so it could dry out.
I wondered how we would ever make a dent in it with all we have to do
in our normal day.  I wasn’t even sure I knew where to start.  So I did what everyone does.   I just started in a random corner.

Earlier in the day, there had been some requests of friends if they could come over and give a hand.   I just said ok, thinking it would be four or five.  I had no idea what was being planned.
Rick had asked if he could drive our forklift out to the house.   It would be handy because it had a big bucket on it and it had four wheel drive.

But I didn’t really think much about it and I didn’t have a clue how to drive it.    But then they just started coming in groups of fours and fives.
Then some awesome women came and within a half hour, something like 50 cars and  I’d guess about 80-100 people showed up with shovels and hammers and chainsaws
and shovels and rakes.  Our neighbors were just as stunned as I was.

A large dumpster had pulled into our yard and then a septic pumper came.  They both got stuck but the forklift is a mule and it can pull or push anything out.
I learned quickly how to drive it.    The women took all of Kathie’s valuables, including our ruined photo albums,  canvas portraits and ceramic dolls over 150 yrs old and a thousand
things like that that were just buried in muck inside of wet bottomless  cardboard boxes.    They knew exactly what they were doing.   Our garage was full of  ladies who were power washing
our furniture and couches and bed frames and dressers . After they dried, they used furniture polish to get the last of the dirty film off.
A truckload of food showed up with more food than we could all eat.  They set up a buffet that resembled something
you’d see at most outdoor weddings.

By dark, my whole basement was stripped out and all the muck was gone.  The low-tide  smell of wet sheetrock and insulation was also fading and there was a dehumidifier running in every room.

Electricians came and rewired the basement and  fixed my shorted circuitry.  A well company came and flushed my water system.   And I got my phone working.

Oh yeah, our new generator was recovered and we discovered that it was in pretty good shape so we are thinking we can save it and the pool looks like all it needs is a thorough cleaning.  The yard is now cleaned and raked and a friend of mine, who is a landscaper is re-staking all the hedges. He says he can save them.   Way cool!

Well, it looks like the pool house will be back in its original position by the weekend and who knows?  It could be all wired up and running soon.

Something tells me that the space where the old barn used to be will become a beautiful garden.

To say we were stunned can’t even begin to describe our feelings.   Even Kathie’s little garden shed which was upside down on its roof is now standing vertical and they are putting a new roof on it as we speak.  We built that little thing when we didn’t have much money.   It was right after we took a huge hit from the Savings and Loan Scandals in 1989 that nearly ruined us.  It kind of resembled a new start for us.   By most standards, it’s nothing special but it was special to both Kathie and I and it represented a second survival as it had gone through two catastrophe’s.

I don’t know what I’m going to do about the big barn that is no more.   Part of me just doesn’t want to spend money we don’t have for something that I’m not sure is necessary.
I will miss hanging out in it.   It was a fun place to hang out with the 4-wheelers and hunting stuff and all my tractor implements and tools.  It had started to remind me of my own Grandfathers barn in Connecticut. There were license plates, old wood pulleys and tons of cool  antiques hanging everywhere in it.    I liked going out  there even if I had nothing to do. The sun would shine right into it on a spring day and it would feel like summer on the south side even when the snow was 4’ deep on the north.

I also had my 8 cord of wood that was always drying for the next year next to my snowmobile trailer. Even our kids hung out there with their friends when they were growing up.    Now it’s just a crater with a concrete slab that was flipped upside down by the force of the water.

What can I say?   Kathie and I are humbled by this outpouring from our church and our friends and neighbors that we had lost contact with because of the busyness of life.
Even though we found out that we aren’t insured, we are blown away by the love that was expressed.
Who cares about insurance?   We are clearly feeling a huge load removed from our shoulders and now when we do anything, it will feel like we are putting things back together instead of watching them come apart.

It was a lot easier going to the office this morning.    I think Kathie feels the same way.

Paul Biebel lives in a 100% Solar Powered home and operates, with his son, Tim Biebel, a business called Prudent Living, that not only offers renewable energies, but the whole package that includes  energy efficient structures that will meet our future with energy independence and a sustainable lifestyle…

Green Energy Times again expresses our concerns and encouragement to not only the Biebel family, but also to all of those that are going through the turmoils attached to this disaster.  There is no longerany such term as a 100 year floodplain.  We must look to our future and prepare accordingly, including the wonderful camraderie of a life that includes our neighbors as friends and part of your community.  Isn’t Vermont a wonderful place to live?

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