After Irene: looking back and moving forward

by Cathy Reynolds, Account Manager

As we approach the two year anniversary of Tropical Storm Irene, we are reminded of Vermont’s resiliency and the efforts to pull together as a community – to recover, rebuild, and revitalize.  In the wake of the storm, Efficiency Vermont facilitated energy efficient and safe repairs and rebuilding by offering incentives and technical advice to homeowners and businesses affected by the flooding.  Simon Pearce was one of many businesses that partnered with Efficiency Vermont as they worked to rebuild - with energy efficiency and resiliency in mind.

Recovery and resilience

The Simon Pearce Restaurant and glass blowing workshop are located in The Old Mill building that overlooks the falls of the Ottauquechee River in Quechee. This proximity to the river provides a breathtaking view, but when Irene struck, it also put Simon Pearce in the path of destruction.

The lower levels of the Quechee facility filled with water from floor to ceiling. Simon Pearce employees and their neighbors and friends pulled together as a community – they pulled on their mud boots, put their heads down, and began to clear out the mud, silt, and trees that had destroyed the glassblowing workshop and the nearby kitchen. Another casualty of Irene was the mill's hydro powered turbine.  With the help of the community, it took 3 weeks for the Simon Pearce restaurant to reopen, nine months for the glass blowing facility to be repaired, and get the hydro facility up and running again in May 2013.

Stronger and more energy efficient

After the storm damage was cleaned up, Simon Pearce had to replace most of their equipment. They chose to install a high efficiency intelligent hood in their kitchen, and energy efficient lighting in the kitchen and glass blowing workshop.  And although Irene spared the dining area of the restaurant and retail shop, there were energy efficiency upgrades to lighting made to show off the award winning food and world famous hand blown glassware in the best light possible.

Simon Pearce’s restoration is a testament to resiliency of Vermonters and our businesses.  Simon Pearce employees, members of the Quechee community, and committed volunteers came together to bolster each other’s spirits and restore the facility – rebuilding better, and stronger. We’re glad that Efficiency Vermont could play a small part in this great story of Vermont community, resiliency, and strength.