A new issue of Seven Days hits the newsstands today. Here's what you'll find inside:
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Cover photo by Tom McNeill
Before yesterday, Wayne Dow hadn’t slept under a roof since early springtime. Homeless for many years and sleeping most recently near the Barge Canal in Burlington’s South End, the 60-year-old said today that he had planned to spend the whole winter outside. But on Thursday morning, “I got up and just said, ‘Alright, Nature, you win!’”
So after Dow (pictured, right) peeled off his icy crust of a blanket yesterday morning, he contacted the Committee on Temporary Shelter. COTS assigned him a bed in a Church Street homeless shelter. As he explained this, he was smoking a cigarette outside the COTS daystation on Buell Street. He’d just had lunch there — ham and potatoes au gratin — and was heading to the pharmacy to pick up cold medicine.
That Dow sought shelter was understandable. Thursday, Burlington temperatures were hovering around zero degrees Fahrenheit. Friday, the National Weather Service recorded a high in Burlington of negative two degrees and the temperature was expected to plummet overnight to 15 below. And that was before factoring in the wind chill. (The ink in this reporter’s pen froze several times during the reporting of this story.)
The leaves are falling off the trees — time to break out the hot chocolate and sit down with this week's winter preview issue of Seven Days. It includes a trip to the Putney theme park/timewarp Santa's Land, as well as these news and politics stories:
Get this week's issue in print, online or on the iOS app.
Cover illustration by Sean Metcalf
Fall is right around the corner. But until the leaves turn red and gold, people around Lake Champlain must contend with changing colors of a different sort: For the last two weeks, pea-green blooms of algae have been popping up in Missisquoi, St. Albans and Malletts bays.
“Mid-August through September is, unfortunately, what we in the business call ‘bloom season,’” says James Ehlers, executive director of the nonprofit Lake Champlain International.
Scientists have determined that early summer rain brings nutrients like phosphorus into the lake, and long stretches of sunlight facilitate photosynthesis, resulting in the pea-green film, Ehlers explains.
“It’s not unlike April showers bring May flowers,” he says.
"We are pleased that we have escaped the bullet on Sandy without more damage [and] without loss of life," the governor told reporters Tuesday morning. Shumlin was quick to thank the hundreds of emergency personnel and utility workers who were deployed in recent days, some of whom were pulled in from as far away as Ontario. He also offered resources and equipment to nearby states to help in their recovery and cleanup.
As several million residents of New York, New Jersey and much of New England are without power and cleaning up after devastating flood and wind damage, Shumlin authorized the deployment of two Vermont National Guard helicopters to New Jersey to help in that state's recovery. The governor also said he'll be speaking to President Obama and regional governors and mayors later today to offer any assistance they may need.
Vermonters prepped for the worst with Hurricane Sandy approaching, but it looks like the state largely escaped the storm's wrath.
Sandy's wind wasn't as devastating as feared. According to the National Weather Service, gusts in Vermont topped out at 72 miles per hour atop Mount Mansfield, 61 mph near Lyndon Center and 60 mph in Underhill. At its worst point more than 16,000 Vermonters lost power, though that number is now below 10,000 as of this writing, primarily in Rutland, Windham, Windsor and Bennington counties. About six million people in total on the East Coast lost power due to Sandy. As expected, rainfall was not an issue in this storm — most Vermont locations got well below an inch of rain.
As clouds scudded across Burlington's skies, about 50 activists gathered on Church Street Monday afternoon to "connect the dots" between weird weather and the fossil fuel industry.
The rally was sponsored by 350.org, a political-action group formed by Vermont author Bill McKibben to address climate change. About a dozen supporters of the movement stood on the steps of city hall holding signs with the logos of oil companies pasted at the center of the meteorological symbol of a hurricane.
The Burlington event took place the day after 350.org unfurled a giant circular banner in Times Square emblazoned with the demand to "End Climate Silence." The New York action was organized on the eve of the onslaught of Hurricane Sandy, described as the largest Atlantic storm in recorded history ever to hit the northeastern United States.
Katherine Blume, a local leader of 350.org, told the Burlington crowd that Sandy is the newest dot in a series that includes record-high temperatures, "glaciers melting all over the world" and a growing death toll attributable to climate change. "We saw one of the dots last year with Irene and unprecedented flooding in Vermont," Blume declared. "Why aren't we hearing over and over in the media and in our schools that we're facing a planetary emergency called climate change?"
Hurricane Sandy now has Vermont's full and undivided attention and will continue to dominate the airwaves and blogosphere for the foreseeable future — or at least as long as the power stays on. (Is it just me, or does the latest NASA satellite photo of Hurricane Sandy look like a huge fist about to punch the entire eastern seaboard in the groin?)
In the meantime, here's the 11 a.m. update from Vermont Emergency Management's emergency operations center in Waterbury:
Public Safety Commissioner Keith Flynn said he does not expect Hurricane Sandy to be another Irene in terms of the scale or breadth of devastation in Vermont. The storm's punch is expected to peak in Vermont at around 8 p.m. Monday night, with the strongest winds and heaviest rains lasting through 4 a.m. Tuesday morning.
Lea Terhune: Thanks, Ann. The picture of that lone cottonwood on the waterfront is worth 1000 words.
@Paul Jones, cottonwoods aren't very good firewood.
If you leave it alone for a few years it will…
Donna Canney Walters: (((NO))). This is a beautiful old tree that lends character to the view from the Seafood Shanty and…
Way to be Ann. I'd like to meet you and help out much as i can.
Paul Jones: Both my liver and I thank you for your concern. Perhaps you should lighten up and hug a…