New England

Ludlow Reopens for Business | Vermont Flooding Update

One of the Vermont towns hit hardest by the floods is welcoming visitors again. 

By Ian Aldrich

Aug 16 2023


Pond Street in Ludlow, Vermont, after it was rebuilt following 2023 flooding.

Photo Credit : Courtesy of Ludlow Emergency Management Director, Angela Kissell

In May, Angela Kissell stepped into the role of Emergency Management Director for her hometown of Ludlow, Vermont. In her earliest days on the job she sat down with department heads and went over a lineup of disaster scenarios and how the town would respond to them. Extreme flooding was near the top of the list. A little more than a month later, July 10th, Kissell’s disaster plan was put into action when extreme rains overwhelmed parts of the state. 

Ludlow, which received eight inches of total rain, was one of the communities hit the hardest. For a time it was the epicenter of the storm and an island, with floodwaters choking off the Maine Route 103 artery in and out of town between Springfield and Rutland. Kissell, a trained firefighter, was involved in much of the action, joining other members of the town fire department as the early flood water swelled in evacuating people from a mobile home park that had been overrun by the Black River. 

Pond Street in Ludlow, Vermont, during the flood.
Photo Credit : Courtesy of Ludlow Emergency Management Director, Angela Kissell

But just as quickly as Ludlow was hit by the rains, it also began to recover. “Once we started to get our plans in place we started rolling,” says Kissell. “Our town manager was also new—he started in April—so there was a learning curve, but we learned quick and I think things went really well.”

Kissell said the fortitude of her hometown of 2,100 residents helped. “Vermonters are a hardy bunch and those who could pitch in, did,” she says. “The guys who have excavating businesses really stepped up to help those in need. Then there were the volunteers. We had probably 300 of them, people coming up in their rubber boots and doing the work. Whatever was needed, even if it meant carrying dirt out of basements that had three or four feet of mud in them.”

Train tracks running above; where a lot of the dirt came from that washed onto Pond Street.
Photo Credit : Courtesy of Ludlow Emergency Management Director, Angela Kissell

The clean-up continues, of course–downtown businesses that suffered the worst damage have still not reopened—but Route 103 is again open to traffic and Ludlow is welcoming visitors. No more so than Okemo Mountain Resort, the area’s anchor tourist draw, which reopened its doors to summer crowds on July 27th,a mere two weeks after the floods hit. In fact, the mountain delayed its reopening by a week just so it could concentrate its efforts on helping the town get back on its feet. That included working to ensure employees who’d been personally affected by the storm, had secure housing. In the flood’s immediate aftermath, Okemo opened its Jackson Gore Inn to help house staff and turned its tavern over to delivering meals. 

“They’re our top focus and really the heart of what we do here at Okemo,” Bruce Schmidt, Okemo’s vice president and general manager, explained. “We’ve been in close contact about those who had damage or were displaced. There were several. We’re so grateful to those who have been able to be helpful where they can.”

This is the house and garage that sits on Pond Street, where all that rubble came down onto.
Photo Credit : Courtesy of Ludlow Emergency Management Director, Angela Kissell

One of those amazed by the pace of Ludlow’s recovery was Holger Stoltze, owner of the Governor’s Inn on Main Street. Stoltze was one of the lucky ones. His business managed to escape the storm’s serious wrath, but he had a front row seat to the damage. 

“I’m completely surprised at how quickly things have turned around,” he said. “That Wednesday after the storm I was talking with an engineer for the railroad and he told me they’d have the one of the big culverts in that following Monday. It really demonstrated to me that the recovery around here is measured in days not weeks. It’s incredible.”

Ground where railroad tracks were washed.
Photo Credit : Courtesy of Ludlow Emergency Management Director, Angela Kissell

As for his business, Stoltze said his August and early September bookings were down, but he remained optimistic about the overall upcoming foliage season. “I think it will be good again,” he said.

Business owner Troy Caruso is facing a more complicated picture. One of the largest employers in town, Caruso’s businesses include Fox Run Golf Club, a motel and five restaurants. Two of his eateries were devastated by the waters. One, Sam’s Steakhouse, Caruso said, wouldn’t reopen, while another, Mr. Darcy’s, faced a long road back. 

Andover Street
Photo Credit : Courtesy of Ludlow Emergency Management Director, Angela Kissell

“Overall we’re looking at more than a million and a half dollars in total damage,” he said. “We’ve had some long days. Eighteen or 20 hours for the last week.” When asked to compare the damage sustained by the town to Tropical Storm Irene 12 years before, Caruso didn’t equivocate. “It’s much worse because of the amount of damage.”

Still, Caruso remained upbeat. “We’re already seeing people starting to return, to check on their vacation homes and start to visit the area,” he said. “A lot of things are open. Restaurants, the golf course—at this point there’s no reason not to visit.”

Pond Street after it was rebuilt.
Photo Credit : Courtesy of Ludlow Emergency Management Director, Angela Kissell

Vermont Flooding Resources:

• The Okemo Valley Regional Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with FEMA and the Small Business Administration is operating a small business recovery center. For more information can be found here

• The Okemo Valley Regional Chamber of Commerce also operates a blog with a running list of area businesses that have reopened their doors. 

• To apply for federal assistance, visit or call 1-800-621-3362.

• To find more additional help, visit or call Vermont 2-1-1.