A flood of memories

Montgomery looks back at 1997 disaster

By Tom Benton

Staff Writer

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‘The emotions are still really raw for a lot of people.’

- Sharon Perry, Montgomery Historical Society

MONTGOMERY — Walk in to Pratt Hall Saturday and you’ll see what look like still shots from a disaster movie: cars sinking into the earth, trees and pavement uprooted and cracked, streets coated in rubble.

As if to support that idea, there’s a video, playing big on a projector screen, homemade recordings of rushing rivers overtaking the streets. A car alarm rings out perpetually; any driver sitting in the cars parked in these images would be up to their chest in muddy water.

But two things separate this disaster movie from others. One, the images aren’t from San Francisco, or New York City, or even tornado country; they’re from tiny, secluded Montgomery, home to about 900 people when the footage was taken.

And two, it’s all real.

This is the Montgomery Historical Society’s exhibit commemorating 20 years since the catastrophic flood on July 15, 1997, when six inches’ rain fell across northern Vermont, though even the National Weather Service acknowledged that could be an underestimate.

For more on the flood and the historical society’s exhibit, pick up a copy of the Thursday Messenger or subscribe to our digital edition.