Volunteers Help Restore Flooded Campground

September 9, 2011 by   - () Leave a Comment

Since Aug. 28, when Tropical Storm Irene moved through the area, there have been innumerable instances when neighbors and community members mobilized to help out others left in dire straits from the flooding, the Manchester (N.H.) Journal reported.

One example occurred on Route 7A in Arlington, at the Camping on the Battenkill, a family-owned business that rents space for visitors with RVs near the intersection of the Roaring Branch, a tributary of the Batten Kill, and the main river itself.

The heavy rain that began on Aug. 28 transformed the Roaring Branch, which despite its name, is generally a fairly placid wide stream by the time it reaches the flat valley from its source point in the hills farther east, into a raging torrent, that at one point looked likely to rip a nearby railroad trestle bridge loose from its moorings. That worse case scenario was avoided, but the storm ripped numerous trees along the banks of the river and carried them west toward the intersection with the Batten Kill, where combined with the heavy rainfall produced a flooding of the campgrounds that washed over a protective berm and left the grounds layered with several inches of mud.

Then, with more rain forecast for last weekend and into this week, there was a real concern that there could a replay of that, just as insurance adjusters were checking over the damage and the campground was struggling to get back on its feet, said Leslie Nase, one of the owners of the campground.

“This flood knocked out all of the berms that protected the campground – flattened them,” she said. “We had to get in the river to get the trees out.”

With no time to lose, the word went out for volunteers and any one who could help with power equipment such as chainsaws and small tractors and backhoes.

Last Saturday, more than 25 volunteers showed up to do what they could. Some brought equipment; others just work gloves and wading boots to help remove the trees and woody debris from the river, she said.

“I’ve had people from Massachusetts, I’ve had my seasonals from Connecticut who are dealing with their own problems – from New Jersey – they said people will here next week (as well) to help,” Nase said. “We’re doing the best with what we have.”

Among those who responded and put the word out through the Manchester Rotary Club was Andy Holzman, a Rotarian and resident of nearby Sunderland. The Nase family had been long-term supporters of the Rotary Club’s major fund-raiser, the Gear Up for Lyme Uphill Bike Climb, and this was a chance for them to repay the favor, he said.

“The priority is to clear the sides of the banks of all these trees so they can be built back up and protect the campground,” he said. “We’ve made some progress and we have a lot more to do,” adding that this was a long term project that could last for several weeks.

It wasn’t just the campgrounds, but other homes along the Batten Kill that could be in jeopardy in the event of more heavy rain and another flash flood, he said.

It was quite a way to mark the Camping on the Batten Kill’s 50th anniversary of being in business, said Leslie Nase, who nonetheless struck an optimistic note that in the end, all would be well.

“There’s a lot of people out there who want to help,” she said. “It’s hard work, but we’ll find a way.”


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