- - Sunday, November 20, 2011

MONTPELIER, Vt. — Visitors to Vermont’s ski country may be surprised to find some restaurants and stores boarded up in the valley town near Mount Snow — one of the communities hardest hit by Tropical Storm Irene — but the skiing should be the same, depending on the snow.

Many Wilmington businesses have reopened or vow to do so — it’s just a matter of when.

“It’s mind-boggling to think what I have to do to think about reopening,” said Lori Downey, who hopes to reopen Bean Head’s coffee shop, after losing everything in the flood, from coffee grinders, a cappuccino maker, refrigerators and freezers to panini grills, meats, cream cheeses and coffee. “I think what we’re going to have to do is start small and build our stuff back up.”

Other businesses are going full bore, hoping to reopen by Thanksgiving — when second homeowners come up hoping for early season skiing — or Christmas. But the owners of the buildings that got the brunt of the flooding — like beloved Dot’s restaurant, which often had a line outside on weekends — don’t yet know if they’ll reopen and certainly not this year.

“We just don’t have things like Dot’s,” said Cheryl Rothman, president of the Mount Snow Chamber of Commerce. “You know there’s no place to go for breakfast. It’s awful, really. Such a community hotspot so to speak, it’s just gone.”

The owners are thinking about a seasonal restaurant in the same spot, and expect they’ll have to tear down most of the current historic building because of flood damage.

So much of the center of the small town is boarded up that the chamber is trying to figure out how to spruce the place up before winter, maybe with a mural painting contest.

“The biggest thing about Wilmington is the fact that our entire business community was gone,” said Ms. Rothman, of the Aug. 28 storm that turned streams and rivers into raging waterways and carried away bridges and large segments of roads across Vermont, cutting off at least a dozen communities and damaging or destroying at least 840 homes.

The slopes and buildings at Mount Snow, however, were unharmed. A snowmaking pump house that was submerged in water has been replaced. The resort hopes to open soon as long as it stays cool enough for it to make snow.

At Killington Resort, another community cut off by road damage in the days after Irene, part of a lodge collapsed in the flooding. The resort has opted to replace it with a deck and two outdoor heated umbrella bars.

It also had to regrade parking lots, dredge a snowmaking pond and replace carpets and drywall in the some of the lodges.

Farther north, parts of the Mad River Valley — home to Sugarbush and Mad River Glen — also were hit hard by flooding, though the resorts were unharmed.

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