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Vermont, A Year After Irene

Vermont, A Year After Irene

One of the worst storms in over 80 years that hit Vermont is the hurricane Irene in August, last year. The storm left at least 6 people dead, wrecked numerous homes and damaged major infrastructures. The Vermont Disaster Relief Fund through its Executive Director Betsy Ide estimated the damage costs to be somewhat between $700 million to $1 billion.

Almost every golf course in the state did not escape the wrath brought by Irene. After a year, the marks which the storm left can still be observed. Dave Pfannestein, the Executive Director of the Vermont State Golf Association said, “When you drive around, there are still houses off their foundations and others condemned. Some stuff has been cleaned up, but other stuff is still sitting there like it was that day. But most of the courses are pretty much back to normal this year.”

The private 36-hole Queeche Club received the hardest hit. Property Manager Ken Lallier recalled, “It was filled with whole trees, tires, and other debris, plus up to six feet of silt. Greens were washed out, and a 10-foot deep trench cut through some fairways. The devastation was staggering.”

Procedures were immediately done to bring the courses back to its state prior to Irene’s devastation. It was a long process, though. Members were playing on some parts of the Highland course until all 18 holes were opened in spring of this year while the Lakeland course opened the first nine holes just recently. The remaining nine are scheduled to open by next spring. The total renovation cost reached to $4.5 million.

The club members are all hopeful and believed that the courses can be redeemed. “I grew up in this valley and the courses have been here for 40 years. We just can’t let a freak storm like this take us out of the golf business. You just grin and bear it, move through it, and this too shall pass,” said by the optimistic Ken Lacasse, the club’s greens chairman.

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