As August begins, we’re approaching the one-year anniversary of Tropical Storm Irene’s historic flooding and damage in Vermont. Our own backyard of Waterbury was impacted in ways we couldn’t have imagined – flooded homes, mud-caked streets, ponds where parks once stood. In Waterbury, and the rest of the Northeast, the recovery is ongoing.
A couple weeks before Irene hit, our employees had just finished our 7th Annual River Cleanup on the Winooski River. From a three mile stretch of river, 165 employees removed over 800 tires, 3.9 tons of scrap metal, and 2.9 tons of trash. Next week, GMCR employee volunteers will use paid time off to pick up trash in and around Vermont’s Winooski River, starting in Montpelier and working their way down to Waterbury. With the devastation caused by Tropical Storm Irene, the state’s worst natural disaster in nearly a century, we know this year’s River Cleanup will likely reflect the remnants of the storm.
The Winooski River, in addition to the many other rivers, lakes and streams in Vermont, holds special meaning to our employees. There is a connection to the waters that flow through the state and a sense of responsibility to protect them. In addition to volunteering over 700 hours last year on the river, employees in Vermont also voted to focus on healthy rivers, lakes, and shorelines as one of three areas for local grantmaking. The Vermont Employee Community Grantmaking team approved grants to support riverbank stabilization projects, storm water runoff prevention and water educational opportunities for youth and adults. Supporting organizations like the ECHO Center, Friends of the Winooski and Lake Champlain International, underlines our commitment to helping communities where we live and work. After the devastation caused by Tropical Storm Irene last year, this year’s River Cleanup gives us an opportunity to continue to help out in our own backyard.
Starting August 6th, we’ll be on the Winooski River pulling out debris and trash. Check back during the week as we’ll have daily blog updates from the river! The event is held in conjunction with American Rivers’ National River Cleanup™, a nationwide effort to keep America’s waterways clean.