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In Cabot, floodwaters tore a hole through the plumbing department of Harry's Hardware

 A woman stands near a window and looks at the camera
Erica Heilman
/
Vermont Public
Jina Alboreo is co-owner of Harry's Hardware, a combination hardware store, bar and gathering space in Cabot.

With waters receding across much of Vermont yesterday, business owners surveyed damage, shoveled mud and swept silt, and desperately tried to figure out when they might be able to reopen.

Vermont Public's Erica Heilman caught up with one such business owner — Jina Alboreo, co-owner of Harry's Hardware and the Den in Cabot, a combined hardware store and bar.

Note: This story was produced for the ear. We recommend listening to the audio, but have provided a transcript below. The conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

Erica Heilman: It's loud because...

Jina Alboreo: Because they are taking our gas tanks out, because the water destroyed the foundation that they are in where they are buried.

Oh, I didn't know that it was that bad.

Oh yeah, it was bad. What happened, our culvert got blocked. The culvert is behind the Cabot garage. So the water's coming down a tributary that goes into the Winooski River, which is behind us. And it got blocked with trees and debris. And it was around I think around 6 o'clock on Monday. And Johanna, my business partner, her husband Rory Thibault, he was just here watching just make sure everything was OK and started to notice water started coming over the garage, in between the garage and the Wiley building, and then called to Anna, told her to get over here.

And just like that, the water just started gushing over here. And luckily, our tanks saved the building, because debris started to hit it, and then the water would hit the tanks and then divert, and it would go around the building. And also Rory and Johanna put stacks, soil and everything they could against the door and prevented water damage.

In the store.

Yeah. What happened was ... the water that went on that side just eroded everything. ... The tanks were almost full. So the tanks didn't wash away because they had so much weight. But the water did get under the tanks and lifted the the pad, the cement pad that keeps them down. And it just lifted them and they just ended up at a slump. Nothing was breached, though there was no leak at all, but we can't use the tanks anymore.

So these gentlemen are taking the tanks out. And then we're going to figure out how we're going to repair that. We probably will not have tanks there. Because this is the second time it's happened — it happened in Irene 2011. So now we see a pattern. So if this happens again, we just can't have the tanks buried there.

 Construction machinery sits next to a gas station and hardware store building
Erica Heilman
/
Vermont Public
Harry's Hardware in Cabot on Wednesday. Flood waters took out the back of the hardware store.

Is there anything you're thinking to do differently in preparation for another storm?

Well, we're still recovering from shock at this point. So we we can't even go there yet. Because we're figuring out what to do with the back of our building. On this side, that was a driveway on this side that went down to a to a place where everyone would gather in the summer, and we'd have picnic tables down there. And it had been a beer garden.

And there's also a bridge, a walking bridge that went across to the back land. And the water eroded it to the point where it's a ravine — so it's a gulley now. And it took out the bridge. The river swelled, changed direction, and now the river is underneath our hardware store in the back. And I'll show you that, too. It took it literally took out the back of the hardware store in the basement. So you can see the river from the bottom — from our plumbing department.

 A person looks down at a hole in the floor inside a hardware store
Erica Heilman
/
Vermont Public
Jina Alboreo views damage inside Harry's Hardware Store in Cabot on Wednesday.

So the back of the hardware store is compromised. It's a separate building that's attached that was built in the '80s. This was built late 1800s. So that part is compromised. So we need to get a structural engineer out here and figure out whether we can save that part or just take that part down and rebuild. So we're just trying to stay open for the community. And just — and we've gotten an amazing pour of love from this town. Everyone showed up. The volunteer fire department was out here Monday night till I don't even know, 4 o'clock in the morning. Everyone was scooping the mud away from our front of our store and our streets. And it's just beautiful and very heartening.

What do you want the world to know right now?

That we are rebuilding. We — this town loves our place. We love our place, and it's the heart of our town. And we put a GoFundMe page up to help us because insurance, flood insurance will cover very little of this because it was a culvert issue. And that's unfortunate. So we are just trying to raise some money to get our building back to a structurally sound place so we can get back to serving food and beer, and we have live music on Saturdays. And this is where people come together and we just want to get back there. Because it's important to this town.

So where do we drink beer now?

Well, we're working really hard to be able to do that. We're not even sure — I haven't even left this town to even know what's happening in the neighboring towns. I hear Harwick got hit pretty hard. ... Right now we're open for hardware. And we're hoping to be and we're going to be able to serve a little bit of food that we don't need a full kitchen for. And then beer as soon as we know we can do that safely.

Beer's important.

It's so important. It's all local Vermont beer here.

Have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message.

Flood recovery resources

      Erica Heilman produces a podcast called Rumble Strip. Her shows have aired on NPR’s Day to Day, Hearing Voices, SOUNDPRINT, KCRW’s UnFictional, BBC Podcast Radio Hour, CBC Podcast Playlist and on public radio affiliates across the country. Rumble Strip airs monthly on Vermont Public. She lives in East Calais, Vermont.
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