One of the biggest risks of building a water powered mill is that you are at the mercy of a river when it goes out of control. Hurricane Irene brought historic flooding to our mill on August 28, 2011.
Although the hurricane had been downgraded to a tropical storm, record rainfalls hit Vermont, the source of our Green River. The silt- laden waters continued to rise through the afternoon, carrying with them 150 foot trees, dumpsters, tires, and other debris. Flood waters continued to rise and began slapping up against our riverside foundation. More than five feet of water filled the basement by the end of the afternoon.
By late afternoon we decided to evacuate our main exhibit room. We are fortunate that the rising waters stopped below the first floor, thus sparing our tenants and the main part of the museum.
Monday revealed one to two inches of silty mud in the basement storage area. Objects which were too heavy for the water to lift, were floated up and left in dangerous piles. Our four 250-gallon fuel oil tanks were standing up-ended. Some vintage factory line shaft items were damaged, but none of the museum’s collection was stored below. Our work was cut out for us as we returned objects to the main exhibit gallery, and continued clean up and repairs to prepare for the season’s final open “Summer Sunday” on September 3rd and participation in Smithsonian Magazine’s Museum Day on Saturday, September 24th.
We appreciate the many concerned inquiries, and your continued support!