By Veronica Hinke, FEMA External Affairs
A battered Bowers Bridge rests atop an embankment along Mill Brook in West Windsor, Vt. The covered bridge is one of the Tropical Storm Irene-damaged bridges FEMA is helping to recover in Vt. Photo by FEMA/Wendell Davis
FEMA is supporting the recovery of multiple covered bridges that were damaged by Tropical Storm Irene in Vermont, where there are more covered bridges per capita than in any other state.
On Aug. 4, a celebratory crowd gathered at Bible Hill Road on Mill Brook in West Windsor. The group watched as Bowers Bridge, a beloved local relic, reclaimed the spot it had occupied for 92 years before the tropical storm.
During the storm, Irene-powered flood waters forced hay bales against the wall of the single-lane timber truss bridge, uprooting it from its historical location and washing it about 150 yards downstream to where it came to rest in a field. Rushing water eroded the south abutment of the bridge, including the foundation base.
Bowers Bridge was built in 1919 and is 45 feet long, an example of English engineering known as tied arch construction. The technique involves butting two low, wooden arches, one on either side of the bridge. Steel rods drilled through the arches support the bridge’s roadbed.
FEMA Public Assistance funds will cover 90 percent of the costs to return Bowers Bridge to as close to its pre-storm condition as possible.
View a FEMA video about the Bowers Bridge.