I can't sleep. I am waking up at 4:30 a.m. Once even at 3:30.
I used to sleep like a baby and never woke up before 6.
But the voices keep talking to me.
The voices of people who just watched their homes destroyed by a raging river and have no flood insurance.
The voices of people whose dreams and memories are covered in mud and are in need of healing.
It's the the 9/11 anniversary and 14 days after Tropical Storm Irene wrecked Vermont.
So Vermont's tragedy was small compared to 9/11.
But Friday I covered the funeral for Michael Garafano, the Department of Public Works' worker who was killed inspecting the flood waters with his son, also Michael.
Tell me that it isn't as big as 9/11 for that family?
So on a personal note: I have covered the flood 14 straight days. My living space is a mess. My clothes are all wrinkled in a pile and I have gotten doctor-comfirmed poison ivy tromping through woods to isolated towns.
ButI keep hearing the voices . Like Jon Graham's or Brian Halligan's who lost their entire homes in rushing floodwaters, but on the other hand, are lucky to be alive.
I keep hearing all the "THANK YOUs."
That is all I heard when I went to flood-torn Pittsfield, Rochester and Killington right after the flood.
In the first few days, I was the only "clean" person in town.
"Thank you for coming to see us," the voices would say.
"Thank you for getting the word out," the voices would add.
They were all covered in dirt and had smiles as wide as the Grand Canyon, despite the nearby homes tossed in the mud in Pittsfield, a home collapsed like a deck of cards in
Rochester and a home devoured by a river in Killington.
So last Saturday, the town had a wedding at the firehouse in Pittsfield. Good for them.
It must have been glorious. I had to cover a Mount St. Joseph football game. But that's OK. I can see the smiles on the townspeople's faces without actually being there.
Watching Pittsfield residents work through the flood was amazing. They were organized.
Pittsfield held elementary school classes and had "haircut day" on their town green. Residents met helicopter food-drops. Pickup caravans were formed to deliver the emergency food shipments to stranded neighbors.
I have been to Pittsfield Town Meetings and their town meeting lunches are the best. The baked beans get me back there every year.
There will be a new electricity at every town meeting now.
New friends among flatlanders and oldtimers. People who saved eachothers' lives and then helped eachother rebuild. A human bond that no one else will understand.
Talk about turning a negative into a positive. "HERE COMES THE BRIDE..."
VIDEOS BY VYTO STARINSKAS. "VERMONTERS IN THEIR OWN WORDS" 3 of Series