(Host) Eleven weeks after floodwaters swept through a Berlin trailer park, the first residents are ready to move back in.
As VPR’s John Dillon reports, the park was cleaned up with the help of volunteer labor and private donations.
(Dillon) Bob and Patty Goodell were all smiles as their new home was delivered to the Weston Mobile Home Park.
(Patty Goodell) "It’s my new home and I absolutely love it. It’s the end of a very long road."
(Dillon) The home has green siding, two bedrooms, two baths, and a gas fireplace. It isn’t quite ready to occupy. That should happen the day before Thanksgiving, just as soon as the electricity is turned on. Bob Goodell says the couple is delighted to be back in the neighborhood.
(Bob Goodell) "We’re not going to let Irene ruin our dream of coming back here and living. We love living here. It’s peaceful, quiet – mile and a half from downtown Montpelier. It’s a really great location. And we’re glad to be back."
(Dillon) The Weston Park was one of 15 around the state severely damaged by Irene. Lieutenant Governor Phil Scott has been working with a team of volunteer contractors to remove homes that were left uninhabitable by the flood.
(Scott) "It’s been 700,000 pounds later of debris; 1,100 Dumpsters that have been removed, and 31 units we’ve been able to discard. And that’s been with the help of a lot of people."
(Dillon) Trailer removal can be expensive, and the price went up with the discovery of asbestos in some of the damaged structures. But the service has been free for mobile home residents, thanks to private fundraising. Scott announced that Bond Auto, a regional chain of auto parts stores, has contributed an additional $50,000 to the trailer removal effort.
Scott says the demolition work has finished at Weston, and crews will go next to parks in Waterbury, Woodstock and Brattleboro.
(Scott) "It’s been heart-warming to see all the people who have stepped up. But certainly the Bond Auto Group is significant toward meeting our goal. So we thank them."
(Dillon) For now, the Goodells are eager to welcome their friends and neighbors back to the Weston Park.
(Bob Goodell) "I’d love everybody to be able to come back. We do have some neighbors."
(Patty Goodell) "They’re over there! (Laughs) Over there. They’re moving down. They’re going to be right across the street from us."
(Dillon) The park owner says about a dozen tenants will move back by the end of the month. He says at least ten more should be back by spring. But about a dozen tenants in the 70-lot park have chosen not to return.
For VPR News, I’m John Dillon in Montpelier