Irene floods Waterbury
On the weekend of August 27-28, the whole eastern coast of the United States and Canada braced itself for the arrival of Hurricane Irene, with many states issuing hurricane warnings and declaring states of emergency. On Sunday, Irene hit Vermont with a vengeance, overflowing the Winooski River from its banks and flooding the town of Waterbury, home of our member roaster Vermont Artisan Coffee and Tea and Coffee Lab International. The flooding left behind a mess and a lot to worry about. Thankfully, however, no lives were lost.
Most of the Vermont Artisan plant was under 3 feet of water during the ordeal, leaving behind 3-4 inches of mud and slime covering nearly everything in the plant. The plant, on Main Street Waterbury was completely inaccessible to staff during the flooding, leading to a massive loss in green coffee inventory, packaging and computers and thus a great loss in the Roaster's retail capability. Furthermore, with no electricity in the immediate aftermath and clean-up, there was a great sense of insecurity whether any of the expensive roasting and tea machinery would actually be able to start up. Having no flood insurance to cover the potential loss in equipment could put Vermont Artisan at great risk. Nevertheless there was nothing to do but to begin clean up of the facilities that week, emptying out the whole building and hosing out the mud, whilst hoping for the best.
Luckily, by Wednesday afternoon once power returned to the roastery, their large Renegade Roaster was able to fire up. Amazing, considering it had been submerged under 3 feet of water only a few days back. Furthermore, the enormous support being provided by the community of Waterbury continued to raise everyone's hopes. Some neighbors lent their hands in clean-up and repairs. Others brought sandwiches and refreshments to the hardworking crew.
Within the week the plant was able to begin roasting to fulfill wholesale orders while they waited for new packaging to arrive for smaller batches. Staff was going "above and beyond the call of duty," roasting late at night and early into morning in order to clear the area during the day to permit crews to install new dry-wall and conduct repairs on the facilities.
Any recovery takes its time and effort. There is still much to do before Vermont Artisan, and the community of Waterbury, can get back on their full footing. However, we do not doubt they will overcome this ordeal together. So far, everyone at Vermont Artisan is incredibly grateful to its staff and the people of Waterbury, whose assistance has been invaluable in clean-up and in moral and physical support.