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Winds wreak havoc along Green Mountains; falling trees smash houses, music camp

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Posted on April 19, 2018 |
By John S. McCright



tree crashes camp housing brighter sized.jpg
WINDS APPROACHING 100 mph sent a tree crashing through the roof of the Point CounterPoint music camp on Lake Dunmore on Monday afternoon, crushing a Steinway grand piano. More than 20,000 customers lost electricity. Independent photo/Angelo Lynn

ADDISON COUNTY — As high winds whipped along the base of the Green Mountains on Monday Jenny Beck felt secure in her Brandon home, out of the elements that were lashing the western half of Vermont.

But a few miles north conditions were even more treacherous as gusts toppled trees, which blocked roads and threatened countless homes.

“I heard there was one 97 miles per hour on Lake Dunmore,” Beck said on Tuesday. “I think that’s the one that got my camp.”

At some point Monday afternoon a hundred-foot-tall pine snapped and crashed through the roof of the Point CounterPoint chamber music camp’s recreation  hall, crushing an expensive Steinway grand piano, damaging the floor and opening the structure for freezing rain to fall upon a harpsichord and a collection of valuable sheet music gathered over the 50-year life of the camp.

All that damage and the camp — which serves kids ages 8-17 who want to improve their violin, piano, cello, bass or viola skills, as well as talented young composers of new chamber music — is due to open in just five weeks.

“Our rec hall is the heart and the hub of activity at the camp,” said Beck, who is the camp director and owner since 2008. “The kitchen is there, so there’s eating; that’s where we have our concerts …. It’s just shocking.”

Beck was one among many who were affected by the storm. Tens of thousands of homes and businesses lost power on Monday and an untold amount of property damage was inflicted.

Green Mountain Power reported the loss of electricity to more than 22,500 of its customers in Rutland, Addison, Bennington and Windsor counties. The company deployed not only its own repair crews, but also 60 external line crews from Canada, Maine and Massachusetts, which essentially doubled its field force. The company said that didn’t include tree crews.

Those crews, which have had a lot of practice these past few months, were quickly restoring power to most places, and GMP expected the vast majority of customers to have their electricity back sometime on Tuesday. Places tighter up against or in the mountains were slower to get power restored. By 9 a.m. Tuesday, GMP was reporting 128 power customers in Goshen were still affected, 152 in Leicester and 86 in Salisbury. At noon on Wednesday there were still a handful of customers still affected in Bristol, New Haven, Weybridge and Cornwall.

HIGH WINDS CREATED havoc along the base of the Green Mountains Monday, including blowing this plane at the Middlebury State Airport up against the trees.

Independent photo/John S. McCright

Tree branches and whole trees were down in yards and sometimes across roads from Brandon north to Starksboro. Road crews, fire departments and line workers were reporting to downed trees and live wires in Middlebury, Ripton, Lincoln and Bristol. At the Middlebury State Airport an airplane tethered to the tarmac was torn from its stays and landed on its side in a line of trees against a fence.

A GMP spokesman on Monday morning said its workers couldn’t get into to some parts of Goshen at that point because of the danger of more trees coming down.

Winds of 65 mph were forecast, but much higher winds were reported on the ground. And if that weren’t enough, the area also received some precipitation in the form of freezing rain and a little snow that made it more than a little uncomfortable to be outside early this week. The temperatures in the area were mostly above freezing and into the 40s, though it dipped into the 20s overnight during the most of the past week.

The forecast for the rest of the week were for high temps in the low 40s and, again, dipping below freezing at night, with trace amounts of precipitation — rain or snow depending on when it falls.

Homes along Lake Dunmore in Salisbury and Leicester appear to have been particularly hard hit. Wind sheared a metal roof off Jan Dillworth’s home on Oak Lane. Rafters, sheathing, roof, windows, sheetrock and carpet where all destroyed when a tree dropped onto Ryan Emilio’s house (see photo, right) on the lake.

Neighbors and friends of the music camp said something very special was endangered by the calamity at Point CounterPoint.

“This would be a loss not just to music lovers in Addison County, but to the broader music world,” said Janie Young. She noted that Point CounterPoint not only trains the next generation of excellent musicians (kids have to audition to get in), but it also hosts young composers just starting their career who get their pieces workshopped and performed by professional musicians. It draws musicians from outside the United States.

Indeed, this summer Beck expects to have Pulitzer Prize winner Caroline Shaw to make an appearance at the camp, as well as the well-regarded Room Full of Teeth vocal performing group.

Young started a GoFundMe page to raise funds online for Camp Point CounterPoint restoration. In its first day of operation 161 people had donated a total of $18,395.

Find it online at www.gofundme.com/save-point-counterpoint.

Repairs won’t be cheap. One local musician estimated that replacing the piano alone would cost $60,000-$120,000. And the piano is the heart of a music camp.

“What would we do without a piano?” Beck asked. “Right now I’m paralyzed. I can’t have a concert, I need a piano.”

Beck was very grateful to the help she got from her neighbors in the aftermath of — even during — the storm.

“I was standing with my mouth open and they just started coming,” she said. “There were dollies and tarps.

“One guy came with a tractor; I don’t know what he needed the tractor for but he had to bring a tractor.”

They helped her save almost all of the sheet music library, some of which was irreplaceable.

“My neighbors were just wonderful,” Beck said.

Some neighbors feel the same way about the camp.

“We’ve had people show up on boats on the lake just to listen to our kids practice,” Beck said. “It touches a lot of lives.”

At midweek she was scrambling with insurance and trying to figure out how repairs would be made while still wondering about the thousands of details that go into running a summer camp.

“I’m a sessional business,” Beck said. “I have hundreds of kids who are going to come beginning in just five weeks. It’s a big deal for them to come.”

IN A SCENE reminiscent of a Maine coastline in the throes of a winter storm, broken sheets of ice pushed up on the southwestern shoreline of Lake Dumore during Monday's windstorm.

Independent photo/Angelo Lynn

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