Home News and Features Barre Businesses Returning and Revitalized

Barre Businesses Returning and Revitalized

Anthony Day of Capital Concrete works on the floor at ReSource in Barre. Photo by John Lazenby.

ReSOURCE is Returning With Community Help

The repair and resell ReSOURCE location in Barre was thoroughly washed over by the July 10 flood. 

“We’re directly in the flood path. The river’s right behind ReSOURCE. We definitely did not get spared,” said Susan Uthmann, ReSOURCE’s training and development manager, who “sort of turned into the volunteer coordinator.” 

The 10,000-square-foot site was “wet, and muddy, and we lost conservatively, I’d say at least 30% of our inventory,” said Uthmann. The YouthBuild area, in which young people from 16 to 24 can study for the GED and learn construction skills, had a wooden floor that was ripped out down to the joists. “Nothing was salvageable. So, the kids have been doing an awful lot of construction on their own building,” Uthmann said. She added they have a “makeshift classroom space at the Granite Museum, who were kind enough to let them use that.”

“What kind of kills it emotionally is that those were donations from the community,” said Uthmann. “Normally we would be the ones helping the community. The reuse goods are incredibly inexpensive. … You know, people are still trying to shop [here]. Every day, we get somebody ‘Are you open? Are you open?’”

Although part of the enterprise’s mission is to keep household goods out of landfills, ReSOURCE had “11 or 12 enormous dumpster loads of trash,” and more.

“The outpouring from community members willing to volunteer has been fantastic, and overwhelming,” said Uthmann. “We’ve had countless groups of people, state employees, VSECU employees, locals.”

Shannon Bussiere of Waterbury Center, an AmeriCorps mentor with ReSource in Barre, paints walls as the flood-damaged building is restored. Photo by John Lazenby.
ReSOURCE won’t be moving locations. For the future, they are finishing the concrete floors and replacing wooden displays with metal ones. “When it floods again, we’re not going to be in the same position.”

Their flood insurance did not cover inventory loss. “There’s no way it’s covering even close to the damage that was caused,” she said.

Remaining appliances are being salvaged at the organization’s repair shop in Williston, and they plan on opening a small section of the store first, said Uthmann. “We’re trying to get up and running as soon as we can, so that we can get this stuff back into the community.”

Getting Back to Sculpting

“My studio was heavily damaged in the flood,” said Heather Ritchie, a granite sculptor in Barre. “So the river basically came through the studio from the back, but at the same time, the sewer in the front of our building was overflowing, so we got hit with both of it,” she said in an Aug. 10 interview.

“We were like within a quarter-inch of having our power shut off, so that would have really been a much worse scenario,” she said. “We use a crane to lift everything, and without that, we wouldn’t have been able to get anything out.” Ritchie’s air compressor, on which she runs all her tools, was “completely smoked.”

Flood damage at Heather Milne Ritchie’s granite carving studio located at 12 Mill Street, Barre. Photo by Heather Milne Ritchie. 
“So luckily with an amazing crew of volunteers, we were able to get a lot of the things unburied,” said Ritchie. “Once I could see the floor, I started feeling a little better.”

“It was really scary. It was very scary. High stress time, I was definitely in crisis mode, and I think I still am in ways,” said Ritchie, who temporarily set up at Adams Granite Co. “So thank god that we had somewhere to bounce, and bring all the work, and bring our tools for reconditioning, and equipment to see what we could salvage,” she said. “Everything’s in buckets.”

“There was a ton of damage,” said Ritchie, from the water itself and muck left behind. “We probably had over half a million dollars worth of product in there that was buried in this muck.”

“There were chips and dings,” she said, “but we were more concerned with staining, because oil and blood are two things that granite does not like, and it will stain, and who knows what was in that water.”

The studio had insurance on the larger equipment. “I have to give my insurance company a lot of credit. The guy I’ve been dealing with comes from three generations of granite carvers, so, he was like ‘I’m really feeling for you on this.’”

“Hopefully this doesn’t happen again, but it very well could,” she said. “Just ordered a new compressor. We are talking about putting it up higher like on a mezzanine.”

Ritchie continues to work on sculptures. She said it’s “extremely hard to focus on the work. Extremely hard to focus on anything. It’s been really traumatic. Every time it rains, my anxiety just goes through the roof.”

“I have worked this week,” said Ritchie. “I try to keep it at 40 [hours a week] but it’s a grind, and it’s physically demanding work.” In a way, the flood was an opportunity. “I’m rethinking my entire business model. I’m rethinking my entire back-to-work approach,” she said. “I’m like, do I want to go back to that grind? Do I want to be the human machine that does all the things that the machines can’t? Or do I want to make art, and I want to do it from the heart?”

“This is allowing me the opportunity to make some decisions that free me up in other facets of my job, that I’ve been wanting to put more energy into, and I just haven’t been, because I’m putting the work first.”

“I want to teach more, so that there are people coming into this,” said Ritchie. Her customers will “be thanking me in five years when there’s new people doing it,” she said, laughing a bit.