It was certainly a storm to remember; afterward, I even  emailed one of our local meteorologists whose weather forecast we tune into every night. “What was that that just went through our neighborhood?” I asked, because I knew he had seen the footage of it all from one of the station’s reporters.

“From what I could tell it was a microburst,” he replied. That means localized very heavy rain and winds between 60 and 80 miles an hour.” Okay I thought, that definitely explained a lot of things.

You see, our initial forecast that afternoon was for thunderstorms and, for a few minutes, it seemed as if that’s all it would be. The lights flickered a bit, but nothing dramatic. The trees swayed, but nothing that would indicate the damage that was to come.  The rain came, but it was just rain.

Until all of a sudden, it wasn’t. The flickering lights went out completely and something that sounded like a freight train shook the house. The rain was so heavy we could not see to the end of the driveway 30 feet away.  And the trees — swaying had given way to the sound of several huge branches crashing down all around us, while oaks and pines were literally being ripped from the soil and toppled.

And then, almost as soon as it began, it stopped. One by one, my neighbors and I came out of our houses and were astounded by what we saw. Our street was thoroughly blocked from both ends by fallen trees, and the main highway, just a quarter mile away, was closed by the huge pines that had crashed down over both lanes. Sirens wailed from both our town and the neighboring one, and fire apparatus, police and town trucks were soon on their way.

For about a minute, we were all stunned — but only for a minute because everyone who had come out got right to work, pulling what we could off the road and piling it out of the way. One of our younger neighbors immediately ran down to the elderly woman whose house had just been grazed by a tree to make sure she was all right and to sit with her until she had calmed down. A couple of the men began to go door to door and street to street to see if everyone was all right or if anyone had been trapped by falling debris. Some of us made a point of helping one neighbor, who is 88 and takes great pride in his beautiful yard, get his property back to normal.  Within about 20 minutes we had it cleared off enough so that some minor raking would take care of the rest. People with charged cell phones made calls for anyone who did not have theirs.

Remarkably, no one was hurt.  What was also remarkable was how quickly we just started to help one another. It certainly was a storm to remember in more ways than one.

—Originally published in the Winter 2022 issue of Vermont Catholic magazine.