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Remembering Hurricane Irene

September 3, 2021 

Remembering Hurricane Irene

August 29, 2011, was supposed to be the first day of classes at Vermont Law School. Instead, catastrophe struck. South Royalton was battered by Hurricane Irene, which dumped around ten inches of rain on the area in less than 24 hours. The White River overflowed its banks. The power was out. Oakes Parking Lot was underwater. Classes were canceled, and students were encouraged to aid in recovery efforts.

VLS students rose to the occasion. They mucked out the basements of their new neighbors. They delivered food and supplies to those in need. The school became a hub for volunteer coordination, with daily emails going out to advise where the need was greatest. Classrooms transformed into donation centers for clothing and household items. Volunteers from existing legal clinics formed the temporary FEMA Assistance Clinic to help area residents apply for relief.

Ten years later, it’s hurricane season once again. Tropical Storm Henri put the VLS community on edge before Orientation 2021 but amounted to little more than a heavy rainfall in this area. Hurricane Ida devastated New Orleans with one of the most powerful recorded landfalls and continued to wreak destruction all the way to New York City. Extreme weather events are becoming increasingly common worldwide as we begin to feel the effects of climate change. The need to prepare for these disasters is urgent, as is the need to slow the drivers of climate change. Both efforts will take the unique drive, dedication, and community spirit that VLS is known for.