Teams Reach Out to Storm-Weary Communities

September 1, 2011


— Updated, September 3

Though it has been a week since Hurricane Irene unleashed wave after wave of destructive flooding across the state of Vermont, the full effect of her wrath is still unfolding.

While fall semester classes at Middlebury College don't begin until September 12, student-athletes, returning early to the campus for pre-season practices, have been quick to join the front lines in the effort to help Vermonters clean up after the storm.

In Middlebury itself, where initial storm damage was limited to downed trees and scattered power outages, Otter Creek continued to rise throughout the week following the storm, threatening businesses and homes along its path. On Thursday, September 1, the Middlebury football team—in town less than 48 hours and yet to hold its first practice—assembled on a closed Bakery Lane along the banks of the river armed with shovels, sand, and hundreds of bags waiting to be filled.

Following an afternoon of preparing and stacking sandbags to protect restaurants and businesses both east and west of the falls, team members were later deployed to a residential area adjacent to the Pulp Mill Bridge, where rising water had crested the river bank and steadily approached a series of homes.

The football team was joined by other teams over the weekend in pitching in to help with the clean-up in storm-battered communities, including Hancock, Rochester and Stockbridge, along the heavily damaged Route 100 corridor. More than 100 students were involved, including athletes and coaches from the football, volleyball and field hockey teams. Also on hand were volunteer firefighters from the Middlebury College staff. Other teams were gearing up to join the effort later in the Labor Day weekend.

The cross country teams also had plans to spend Saturday traveling  northeast to Hinesburg to assist in the cleanup and repair of a home and surrounding farm belonging to the family of Noah Hurlburt, a teacher at Middlebury Union High School and new assistant coach for the Panthers’ men’s and women’s cross country teams.