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Bennington woman witnesses history and horror in Boston

April 18, 2013

Danielle Fogarty is a witness to history and horror. Her impending moment of great personal triumph — finishing the Boston Marathon — was suddenly shattered Monday when two bombs, in quick succession, exploded in front of her.

“None of us in our experiences here expect to see explosions and none of us expect to see flesh and burns and things. So, it’s unimaginable to be running toward the finish line and have that happen,” Fogarty said.

She shared her personal account of the events with the Banner on Wednesday, even as she was still processing the grisly scene that played out before her. At times she laughed. Other times she cried, pausing frequently to gather her words or wipe away tears. Throughout the 45-minute interview, though, she was wholly open and honest as she recounted her experience and shared her thoughts and feelings.

The story appears in today’s edition of the Bennington Banner, accompanied by a picture taken by staff photographer Peter Crabtree. With her arms crossed and a sorrowful, almost pained expression, it perfectly captures Fogarty’s inner anguish as she describes the terror she witnessed.

She spoke of how running allows her “to be in spirit.” She was able to stay in that state for some time despite the jarring explosion, followed by screaming, ghastly injuries and a wave of spectators rushing the opposite direction. She ran on toward the finish, just hundreds of yards in front of her, clearly in sight. Her partner Charles was supposed to be there cheering as she finished. Instead they found each other shy of the line and quickly left the scene.

Danielle Fogarty (Photo by Peter Crabtree)

Danielle Fogarty
(Photo by Peter Crabtree)

Interviews vary depending on the story. Sometimes they are light and fun. Sometimes they are combative. Sometimes, frankly, they are boring.

This one was moving and riveting.

Fogarty needed little prompting. In fact, she offered long, thoughtful answers to questions that probably did not meet the gravity of her experience. I was moved by her story and was myself caught up in her responses and her emotions.

Perhaps her shortest answer on Wednesday summed up how most feel about Monday’s attack:

“It’s a shame. It just a shame. It’s sad, unnecessary, stupid, cowardly,” she said.

Hers was not a fun story to tell, but it was a necessary one. Her responses, and the compassion and sorrow she expressed for whomever perpetrated the attack, provide a perspective worth sharing.

“It’s senseless violence against absolutely innocent spectators. That anybody would intend to hurt and think that that was an effective way of achieving anything, my heart goes out to a person who thinks that their only alternative is violence. It is senseless and for a person to be in that place where that act makes sense is tragic,” Fogarty said.

Bennington Banner videos by Peter Crabtree


Reacting to the attack

April 16, 2013

The alert chimed on my phone just shy of 3 p.m. I pulled it from my jacket pocket expecting to simply dismiss another AP alert, an action I perform several times a day and probably in my sleep. But after a quick glance at the screen — and then a double take — I had a gut feeling that the afternoon was about to change.

“Two explosions reported at the Boston Marathon finish line.”

Sure enough, it did.

I was hanging around the town office waiting for Gov. Peter Shumlin to drop by and pay a visit to a handful of local officials. I needed to follow up on comments he had made earlier in the day to a group of local business owners. In the meantime, I asked employees in the town clerk’s office to bring up news coverage online. It didn’t look good.

Shumlin, ever the picture of vigor, bounded through the door, said his hellos, then reluctantly approached me, likely knowing I had questions. As a courtesy, I told him of the bombs in Boston. “What? How bad?” he asked. “Bring it up,” he told Assistant Town Clerk Cassandra Barbeau. “Scroll down,” he said, apparently a fast reader.

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Shumlin’s turn

April 4, 2013

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Peter Welch, an independent and Democrat, respectively, have been regulars on MSNBC programming recently. Both pols are known to lean left, so it’s no surprise they’ve found a hospitable place on MSNBC, a cable news outlet that is widely seen to cater to the political left.

Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin

Now, Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin, also a Democrat, is taking his turn in the spotlight. Recently elected chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, Shumlin’s star is shining considerably brighter in Washington these days.

Below is a link to a clip of an appearance by Shumlin on the April 2 “Morning Joe,” the channel’s morning program. He joined David Axelrod, a former senior advisor to President Barack Obama, to talk health care and governor’s races.

Shumlin on Morning Joe

Woman describes flood water rescue

September 6, 2011
Staff Writer
BENNINGTON — Charlotte Peterson and her brother Charles Orville “Mickey” Peterson were hunkered down in their Route 67A home as Tropical Storm Irene dumped rain outside. They thought they would be safe at home, but as the Walloomsac River spilled over its banks, it quickly became apparent they needed help.

“In the beginning, nobody really evacuated down here until I called 911. I told them you gotta send someone down here to evacuate us. The water came up so fast,” Peterson, 67, said a week after she and her brother were part of a dramatic rescue mission that has left her brother hospitalized.

Irene’s torrential rains pounded the area, creating raging rivers out of normally serene waterways. The rising Walloomsac essentially created a new river down Route 67A near the Paper Mill covered bridge. Water flowed without restraint, destroying the road and flooding homes.

Meanwhile, Peterson and her brother waited for help to arrive. Members of the North Bennington Fire Department mobilized and approached the Petersons’ home with a boat. Peterson said she and her brother were loaded in and began making their way to safety.

Then the problems began.

“We got up to the picket fence and they couldn’t get us any farther. They tried to pull and it still wouldn’t go. The boat started filling up with water. That’s when I slipped out and I grabbed a tree in my yard and held onto a limb. In the meantime, my brother was hanging onto

the picket fence and there was a guy trying to put a lifejacket on him,” Peterson said.Peterson would cling to the tree — and life — for an hour while rescue personnel struggled against the fast-moving flood water. “I kept hollering please help me. And they kept saying they’ll be coming pretty soon. I was fighting the debris that was coming down. There was an awful lot of debris — trees and everything else,” she said. “I was going from one hand to the other hand. I got a lot of bruises.”

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Bennington County eligible for individual FEMA help

September 6, 2011
Staff Writer
BENNINGTON — Residents of Bennington County who suffered damage from Tropical Storm Irene are now eligible for individual assistance from the federal government, according to Gov. Peter Shumlin.
Shumlin requested that Bennington, Addison and Orange Counties be added to the Individual Disaster Declaration on Saturday. The request was approved on Sunday, according to Shumlin’s office.


“I can’t tell you how grateful I am to President Obama for his concern and responsiveness. He turned around that request on a Sunday in less than three hours,” Shumlin said.

Windham, Chittenden, Washington, Rutland and Windsor Counties had already received the declaration.

Some individual property owners in Bennington County sustained massive damages, including the loss of homes, following major flooding on Aug. 28 from Irene’s torrential rains. Swollen rivers cut through banks and washed away homes in several places.

Shumlin said the individual assistance declaration makes private property owners eligible for up to $30,400 in cash grants to help cover the cost of repairs. Additional low-interest loans are also available to help cover uninsured property losses, he said.

“This is a really important break for us,” Shumlin said.

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Woodford Route 9 bridge work begins, slated to open late next week

September 1, 2011

Staff Writer
WOODFORD — State transportation officials said Thursday they plan to be able to reopen a Route 9 bridge late next week.

State Rep. Bill Botzow, D-Pownal-Woodford, right, is briefed on repairs to a washed out bridge on Route 9 in Woodford Thursday. (Neal P. Goswami/Bennington Banner)

The bridge was washed out Sunday by raging water from Tropical Storm Irene, cutting off access to Bennington from the west.

Mike Hedges with the Vermont Agency of Transportation said construction crews working on the Bennington Bypass have been mobilized to work on repairing the bridge. They are also helping to replace a water main that feeds the town of Bennington from its water treatment facility just west of the bridge.

Officials sought earlier this week to locate a temporary, one-lane bridge to allow traffic to access Woodford and Wilmington, whose downtown was devastated by flooding. Hedges said that plan has been scrapped, however. Instead, crews will look to remove the collapsed portion of the bridge and fill it with earth.

“We got a pretty quick repair method for it and they should be able to move right on to that,” Hedges said. “The bridge itself is in fine condition. It just lost that one abutment, the west abutment. The plan is to cut off that span of bridge, cut that loose, and then fill in that first span using geo-textile fabrics to build a stable soil that fills in behind that first pier.”

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Water main repair underway in Bennington

September 1, 2011

Staff Writer
BENNINGTON — Replacement water main pipe arrived Thursday and crews began replacing several hundred feet, hoping to have the town reconnected to its water filtration plant in Woodford by late Friday.

Powerful floodwater from Tropical Storm Irene’s rains washed out a bridge on Route 9 Sunday between Bennington and the filtration plant. The collapsed bridge took down a section of water main with it.

Work on replacing a water main began Thursday in Woodford and Bennington town officials hope to have the town water system back online over the weekend. (Neal P.Goswami/Bennington Banner)

Hundreds more feet of pipe were washed out further down Route 9 toward Bennington as well, said Bennington Town Manager Stuart A. Hurd.

Town officials and water department crews have been scrambling since Sunday to keep water flowing to homes and businesses, and to repair the heavily damaged water system infrastructure.

Hurd said Thursday the issue remains a problem, but with materials now available, the plant should soon be back online.

“The water situation still remains our most critical situation. Work is ongoing in Woodford where the water pipe was actually damaged,” Hurd said. “We found an additional 300 feet of damaged pipe that we’re going to have to bridge, but we found it earlier enough that we got it on the truck before it left its supply depot.”

Officials confirmed Wednesday that the water intake for the system located on Bolles Brook is “entirely destroyed,” Hurd said. A pump has since been placed in the City Stream below Bolles Brook, which will feed the water system once it is ready to be reconnected, he said. Water is already being pumped to the plant to test the plant’s systems.

“That work has begun already as we test the facility that has been shut down for five days now. We’ll be testing all of our meters, all of our capabilities there. Ultimately, when we’re satisfied, we’ll pump water into a 1.2-million-gallon tank at the treatment facility itself,” Hurd said.

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