How to Use

Welcome to VTResponse. We are the clearinghouse of information for those seeking help and those wanting to help in the wake of Tropical Storm Irene. We’ve been here since Day 1, which after disaster is a darn long time. Thanks for visiting.

How to Use this Site:

If you need help, please click here, call 802-922-4202 or email

If you want to volunteer, please click here. Also keep watching the homepage for opportunities to help around the state. You can search using the box to the right or click on one of the blue tabs. You can also connect with other volunteers in our Forums, a wealth of information from those volunteering across Vermont.

If you want to donate, please post large items to our Exchange and check our donations tab for information on where to donate money or smaller items. At this time, clothes are not a major need.

A word on etiquette: It’s easy to get wrapped up in the cavalier “get it cleaned up” attitude. Please remember that you are cleaning up someone’s home. This someone is a person who likely did not anticipate having a ruined home. A great deal of mourning accompanies disasters, and as a volunteer, it is paramount that you are sensitive to this. You may be there to help clean out garbage from a basement, but if someone wants to tell you a story about every piece in there, it is part of your job to sit and listen.

You are also a stranger, so introduce yourself, ask IF you can help and ask HOW you can help. There is a great deal of pride in Vermont; don’t underestimate how hard it might be for someone to accept help.

A word on safety: There are hazards associated with volunteering. To be safe, you must bring with you a new N95 mask (about $5 at hardware store), Boots, Work Gloves, and wear pants and sleeves. Free N95 masks are also available from the Health Department District Offices. Bring your lunch and bottled water to drink. The Health Department is recommending that no one under the age of 18 be involved in clean up efforts. There are plenty of other ways kids can help, but mucking out basements is not one of them.

If you are out in the field, and come across people needing help, please share our phone number (802-922-4202) and website with them. You can also relay information back to us, and we’ll do what we can to get volunteers out there.

Thank you for all of your great work; keep it up.

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41 Responses to How to Use

  1. Lisa says:

    This is very well said and a great reminder! Thank you….

  2. Peter Lavallee says:

    I agree with those comments. Volunteers from all over are wonderful and the unfortunate homeowners are very appreciative of the help. Thanks to the VTResponse people who took on this project. I refer to it all of the time to see when/where help is needed and read the feedback from those efforts.

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  4. Tasha says:

    A great side of the story to think about. You guys are doing an awesome job, keep up the good work!

  5. Ness says:

    Well said. You are cleaning up someone’s home and sorting through all their belongings, whether those items appeal to you personally. It is tempting to judge. Or to suggest light-heartedly “garage sale time!” But these poor families are so literally exposed and these items are all they have. You are right – the best thing you can do is to hear their stories about that ceramic dog or teapot, and clean and wrap and store each item carefully until they they are in a better place to deal with them.

    • Mona Frye says:

      Very well said Ness. Thank you so much.

    • Donna says:

      Ed and Donna Barden

  6. Anthropologists have studied people in the midst of unexpected transitions induced by natural disasters. Though not full on PTSD – there similar implications for folks trying to “assist” people impacted by natural disasters. The transition isn’t just about the “stuff” you can see, but about the things unseen that are shifting inside the person you are helping. Blessed be in this work.

    • mark koch lmft says:


      I’m in WRJ but willing to travel if you become aware of individuals or families with “stuff” inside. We all need to be heard, especially at this time of crisis. I am qualified and licensed by the state of Vermont as a mental health provider. More importantly, I have compassion. Help me to connect with folks with these needs if you can.

      tx, mark

  7. Anne Barbano says:

    Such a great post. Of course I tweeted it. Thanks always, ANNE

  8. Anne Blakely says:

    Well said. You guys are amazing! Thank you so much.

  9. Rita Ahti says:

    Thanks for posting this. My elderly parents (late 70’s and early 90’s) were impacted by the flooding, and it really has been a traumatic event for them. They are frankly still in a state of shock, however the sensitivity and generosity of six volunteers in Rutland made all the difference when they showed up (without being asked) if they could help my brothers from out of state. Today’s weather warnings have everyone on edge, and I pray that folks in Vermont stay safe. Thank you everyone who is helping to restore homes, farms, businesses, power, telephone lines and roadways. You are a shining example of what can be done when people work together.

  10. Hellen says:

    This is such a sensitive area – thank you for posting it. My family was extremely fortunate to not experience the amount of devastation some of our neighbors did. Driving through Waterbury was a humbling experience. To see people’s lives literally laid out in the front yard almost made me feel guilty that we got through with so little damage. If anyone is in need of women’s/girls clothing sizes 4-8, we have plenty to spare. All I need to know is where to take it.

  11. Linda Jackman says:

    Thanks so much for this reminder to all. Not only are Vermonters great neighbors and friends, they are also sensitive and considerate and want to help in whatever way they can. Being reminded of all the emotional, psychological and physical chaos that takes place during an event such as this can only contribute to us being better able to help our neighbors.

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  13. Wonderful post – thank you. It is not our job to decide which is the most important task; it is our job to listen, with all of our senses, to discover what is ready for attention.

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  16. John Curran, Associated Press says:

    i am a reporter looking for great examples of random acts of kindness in post-Irene Vermont and i’d like to hear from you if know one

    • Anne O'Brien says:

      Hi John,
      We have had so many random acts of kindness in Richmond. A couple from Huntington came by with home cooked lunch for the entire Esplanade Street on Saturday, very unexpected, delicious, and devoured by volunteers and families who were flooded that day. A young family made a Free Lemonade cart and walked around Richmond with it… so refreshing on a hot day digging out of the flood. A kind unknown person dropped off several hundreds of pounds of dog and cat food for pets who were involved in the flooded areas. Carol Adams made cookies and dropped them at the town center with a note” Bless the Volunteers” . The WCVT phone company sent along 6 new shop vacs to help the clean up. There are so many instances. It is a wonderful reminder of how kind people are.

      • Jesse Davis says:

        Many acts here in West Hartford as well. The morning after the White River receded below its banks, Mr. Vernon Fogg hopped in his tractor, maneuvered over the buckled ramp up to and over the bridge and began digging out Pomfret Road from under 12 inches or more of mud and silt. Along the way he dug out people’s driveways so we could begin to become mobile again. Numerous people have been bringing food for volunteers and displaced families to the West Hartford church. And a veritable army of volunteers has descended upon our village to help. This is what I love about our state: we have kept a sense of community in this era of globalization and continue watching out for our neighbors. We live in a truly special place, even while working to recover from such devastation.

      • Indeed, there have been many, many acts of kindness. My husband’s place of work, Data Innovations in S. Burlington/Williston, in spite of being so far away from us in Rochester, donated money and goods for cleaning to Rochester and Hancock. The donations of workers were matched by the company and by the CEO. I am so grateful for this and for the help of a friend and neighbor in re-building our road so that people living in Quarry Hill Creative Center on Fiske Rd. (A loose collection of artists, writers, people of all sorts with hip viewpoints, and families with children) could get out to town. Thank you Harold Hubbard! and thanks Data Innovations!
        And much much more.

    • Eileen says:

      I was volunteering with my family at Neighborhood Connections, a non-profit in Londonderry, Vt. on Saturday, where they are setting up a free storefront of clothing, household goods, etc. for those in need. A family had just arrived from Texas with 14 suitcases of clothing and shoes, donated by their community in Waco. Their daughter had also brought a check for $1200 she had raised at her school. I do not know their names, but Neighborhood Connections can provide it. Their office number is 824-4343.

    • Irene says:

      hello! SIena’s wonderful historic piano camp owner in Bennington, Polly van der Linde, sent out a request for $ HELP to all her past piano students/participants and has been inundated with donations. She has already delivered something like $15,000 to the town of Bennington: from the Bennington Banner a few days ago- “Within 10 hours of putting the word out to her students that Bennington was in need of funding to deal with damage from Tropical Storm Irene, Polly van der Linde, owner of Sonatina Enterprise Inc., had raised $10,000. Van der Linde operates the piano sch…”
      -Irene (NOT the hurricane)

  17. Anne Barbano says:

    I have to say #VTResponse is 2nd to none. They have demonstrated every act of kindness. They never stop. They are exhausted. They are organized. They give and give. Thanks for asking John, ANNE

  18. Elizabeth says:

    Good message on volunteer etiquette. I volunteered in de-mucking, gutting, and removing debris at a house in South Royalton. I brought my camera, thinking it would be interesting to take photos of the process; but realized as soon as I got there that that would be insensitive and intrusive to the homeowners, so I left the camera in the car.

  19. dogluvr87 says:

    Thank you very much for posting this. Doing cleanup of my own home this weekend, we had to empty the contents of our garage and basement to assess what was salvageable and what needed to be removed. We turned away SO many people wanting to buy stuff at our “yard sale.” We even put a sign at the end of the drive that said, “NOT a YARD SALE” yet they kept pulling in, asking for the price on the tractor, etc. It just added insult to injury for us. I think it made the horrific task twice as exhausting. Perhaps a reminder to people of VT, tourists, etc. about being sensitive to this would be useful as well.

    Thank you so much for the amazing work you are doing.

  20. Alaina says:

    Please also never forget our love always matters to a grieving person; that our presence counts and comforts. Sometimes this awareness is more important than what we actually say. The words don’t matter as much as the tone or intention.
    Many VT’ers experiencing such profound losses are seeking comfort, acknowledgment, recognition, validation, inspiration, connection. Your Gestures matter… You can soothe, remind, and surround with a profound feeling of support.
    Keep up the great work, VT! We are one heck of strong community!

  21. Coleen says:

    On safety…
    The Vermont Department of Health has issued an alert regarding young people involved with cleanup efforts. Dr. Wendy Davis, Commissioner of Health, states that we simply cannot put our kids in harm’s way by having them be involved with cleanup efforts. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that “children, and whenever possible teens, should not be involved in clean-up efforts but should return after the area is cleaned.”

    • Reality VC says:

      Coleen, you are completely right. We’ve stressed this information through most of our posts, and have relayed it to anyone reaching out to us asking how their teens/kids can help. To reiterate we’ve also updated this specific post. Thank you!

      • Ann says:

        While I understand parents needing to monitor their children’s health and safety, at all times. I find blanket statements suggesting that teenage children and even younger can’t be trusted to keep safe or must be excluded from difficult work because of their age to be upsetting. People under the age of 18 are people– able-bodied and minded people– who need to be guided and fostered to emotional maturity. Pushing them out of experiences like cleanup efforts simply because of their age is dangerous to their emotional growth and gravely disrespectful. Children should be protected–that is without saying, but in all ways not just physically.

        • Reality VC says:

          This is coming from the Department of Health on the risks to teenage and younger bodies. We are not speaking to their emotional ability to help or even their desire to help, which certainly is part of learning from disaster. However, we do not want to put anyone at risk and because of the toxic nature of much of this work, do not recommend that people under 18 participate in indoor recovery efforts. We ask that you follow the Department of Health recommendations if you are going to volunteer.

          • I absolutely agree that children should not be involved in this kind of work. Look at what has happened at the 9/11 site, to some workers there. Suppose they had been under 18 (perhaps a few were). I would hate to think that their lungs might have been damaged. Vermont is not as toxic, but please really follow these recommendations!

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  23. Andoring says:

    Hi… I work at CVMC. We created some “volunteer safely” recordings with Dr. Brown in the hopes of making sure folks stay healthy while they help out.

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  25. Eemma says:

    I would like to add to this:
    People donating to a drive will *not* appreciate that a volunteer is going through the donations and helping themselves to what they want. Even if you are one of the recipients in the end, it is not okay for you to help yourself first.

  26. Lisa says:

    I just want to say thank you again. I went to help my boss the other day and figured I’d be pulling down sheetrock and other physical things. And I wound up spending the day with his most amazing wife. It involved smaller, but important things, like reminding her to take her pain medication, helping her sort through some family photos, walking her dog with her and just listening. It was the most amazing experience and I was so grateful that I’d read this last week as I kept thinking of it all day!

  27. mary barnier says:

    hi. my name is mary. i have thousands of books i would like to donate to anyone that would like them. we had water damage in my basement and i had to remove everything from there to my garage and a huge storage tent that we have in the backyard. because we are in our 70’s, my husband and i have decided that i will not try to have the on-line bookstore that i had dreamed of for 45 years. but… i do not want these books to go into the landfills. anyone that is interested can contact me at i would like to donate them to a library or school but the problem is in storing them. my garage has to be empty before winter. it is wonderful to see how people are pulling together during this disaster. that is what vermonters are all about!

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