"The Troubled Roar of the Waters": Vermont in Flood and Recovery, 1927-1931
Winner of the Richard Hathaway Award from the Vermont Historical Society (2008)
In their new book, Deborah Pickman Clifford and Nicholas R. Clifford revisit the devastating flood that wreaked unprecedented destruction on New England in November 1927. Vermont sustained the greatest damage by far, with eighty-four deaths (or three-quarters of the total casualties) and property losses totaling thirty to forty million in 1927 dollars (more than eighty-six dollars for every man, woman, and child then in the state). These losses were proportionally far higher than the corresponding ones suffered in the regions ravaged by the huge Mississippi floods earlier that year. In these pre-FEMA years and in true Green Mountain State style, Vermonters by and large had to confront the emergency on their own, and this at a time when the boom of the mid and late 1920s had largely bypassed Vermont, a rural state with little industry and a stagnant population.
Contrary to popular belief, however,Vermont did accept federal, Red Cross, and other outside assistance. "The Troubled Roar of the Waters" is the story of the flood, the formation and work of emergency relief committees, the efforts to rebuild in a harsh climate, and the ways in which the disaster fundamentally affected the state's political and social development.
Though the 1920s traditionally have been represented primarily as a prelude to the Depression and the New Deal, new scholarship sees the nation entering a period of rapid and unnerving change in these years. Cities and suburbs mushroomed, the automobile revolutionized society, new and larger forms of business and industry flourished, and tensions mounted between new immigrants and the "old stock." The Cliffords build on this, using public and private archival collections to inform their riveting story, fleshing out the historical record and adding key perspectives to this broader emerging debate over how the decade is viewed. For specialists and general readers alike, the authors place the story of the 1927 flood within the larger context of early twentieth-century American history, establishing the event and its aftermath as emblematic of the age."
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