Hurricane Irene in Colrain MA

We just regained our electricity, which had been out since Sunday morning, so now I can post a description of my experience. After a night of constant rain, I awoke to a roar, which was the little creek that runs down the side of our property and its tributaries. Later that morning my children and I went outside in our raincoats and boots (all of which were soaking wet within 10 minutes). We walked only a little way along our road because of large puddles and some damage and word of a downed electric line. We walked in the fields across the road and then checked in with our neighbors in both directions.

The small river that is the south boundary of our property, a little farther away, was a huge, churning grey mass of water moving fast and loudly. There were channels that hadn’t been there before. We walked into the field between our house and the river. Looking back at the road, a sheer cliff of dirt had been created at the edge of the road, covered by a 10-foot-wide waterfall. This waterfall was from a brook that was usually a small trickle. Looking down the river, we saw that the old barn in our neighbors’ field was being undercut by the river as it gouged a wider path through the bank. We turned to go back to the house, when I heard a thunder-like sound. I turned around to see the wing of the barn closest to the river fall into the river and be swept away.

This is the view of the barn taken during a previous autumn.

The Entire Barn, Photo by Joe Kurland

It was originally attached to a house that was severely damaged in the hurricane of 1938 and was removed before I lived here. It looked like a building that had been built section by section over a period of time. You can see how the river glides sedately some distance from the barn. It is a normal New England stream full of rocks and bordered by fields and woods. We enjoy wading in it in the summer.

This is a picture of it after the first wing fell off and after the river continued to undermine it until the mid-section collapsed as well. You can see how the water cut out a much larger space on the left. I have enjoyed having this barn as part of our landscape and am sad to see this damage.

The Barn After Irene, Photo by Joe Kurland

There are places closer to the center of town where our road is compromised or closed; fortunately, there is a way around the closed area. A small bridge is simply disconnected on one end. A trip to Shelburne Falls today took about twice the usual time. We saw the Deerfield River way below flood stage, but the Salmon Falls were a huge torrent. Here’s a view of the river at its peak—

It is humbling to witness such a storm.