"I started freaking when I came down the stairs and there was an inch of water and the driveway was completely flooded," she said. "Then I started to get scared."
Becker got out safely before water a foot deep poured through her home. Looking at a wet brown couch sinking in the mud on her lawn, she said: "It's all just stuff. We all are safe. That's what matters." But Becker admitted she was overwhelmed. She had spread the pages of her son's baby book on a table to dry in the sun. A box containing her youngest son's school papers and drawings was destroyed, along with one that held her own school pictures and diplomas.
"All that stuff — gone," she said.
David Paquette said that when he and his brother Steven bought their auto body shop in Marlboro, Vt., they knew there was a potential for flooding, but they never expected something of this magnitude. The water ripped the building in two, carrying away the brothers' truck.
"This was just too much, too fast," Paquette said as he salvaged what he could. "Boom. Gone. In a heartbeat."
Reston reported from Brattleboro and Susman from New York. Times staff writers Melanie Mason in Los Angeles, Richard Simon and Michael Memoli in Washington, and David Zucchino in Nags Head, N.C., contributed to this report.