Bridgewater family recovers from July’s flooding

Clockwise from bottom, Joe Mispel, 4, winds up to throw a ball while playing with his father Nathan, sister Faith, 13, and mother Casey in their living room in Bridgewater, Vt., on Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2023. The Mispels’ home flooded in July, and with the help of family and community members they were able to rebuild and move back in 41 days after receiving disaster assistance from FEMA. “It’s been quite the journey,” Nathan Mispel said. “We have a lot to be grateful for this Christmas.” (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Clockwise from bottom, Joe Mispel, 4, winds up to throw a ball while playing with his father Nathan, sister Faith, 13, and mother Casey in their living room in Bridgewater, Vt., on Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2023. The Mispels’ home flooded in July, and with the help of family and community members they were able to rebuild and move back in 41 days after receiving disaster assistance from FEMA. “It’s been quite the journey,” Nathan Mispel said. “We have a lot to be grateful for this Christmas.” (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Alex Driehaus

Faith Mispel, 13, left, talks to her mother Casey at their home in Bridgewater, Vt., on Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2023. The Mispels did most of the home repair work on their own with the help of family members and were able to put on an addition with a new bedroom and bathroom. The total cost of the repair was around $50,000, with $21,000 covered by FEMA assistance. “It turned out to be quite a blessing in the long run,” Nathan Mispel said. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Faith Mispel, 13, left, talks to her mother Casey at their home in Bridgewater, Vt., on Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2023. The Mispels did most of the home repair work on their own with the help of family members and were able to put on an addition with a new bedroom and bathroom. The total cost of the repair was around $50,000, with $21,000 covered by FEMA assistance. “It turned out to be quite a blessing in the long run,” Nathan Mispel said. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Alex Driehaus

Family photos salvaged from Casey Mispel’s dresser, which was badly damaged by floodwater, are pinned to the wall at the Mispels’ home in Bridgewater, Vt., on Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2023. Nathan Mispel said that the ordeal his family experienced over the summer sometimes feels like a bad dream. “It’s hard to believe it happened,” he said. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Family photos salvaged from Casey Mispel’s dresser, which was badly damaged by floodwater, are pinned to the wall at the Mispels’ home in Bridgewater, Vt., on Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2023. Nathan Mispel said that the ordeal his family experienced over the summer sometimes feels like a bad dream. “It’s hard to believe it happened,” he said. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Alex Driehaus

Casey Mispel pets her huskies, from left, Benson, 11, Leo, 3, and Denali, 7, at their home in Bridgewater, Vt., on Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2023. Mispel said that when the family moved back in it took a while to feel at home again. “The first few nights felt like a hotel,” she said. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Casey Mispel pets her huskies, from left, Benson, 11, Leo, 3, and Denali, 7, at their home in Bridgewater, Vt., on Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2023. Mispel said that when the family moved back in it took a while to feel at home again. “The first few nights felt like a hotel,” she said. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Alex Driehaus

By NORA DOYLE-BURR

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 12-30-2023 8:00 PM

Modified: 01-02-2024 12:37 PM


BRIDGEWATER, Vt. — The Mispel family has returned to their home off Route 4 in Bridgewater Corners.

With $20,000 of FEMA money in hand and help from family members, they rebuilt the mobile home and an addition that had been destroyed in July floods.

“We got it all finished,” Casey Mispel said in a phone interview this month. “From the moment we got the FEMA money, I think 41 days later we slept in that house.”

On July 10, their home was flooded with chest-deep water after a culvert that sits alongside the eastern part of the property carried rushing water from the Ottauquechee River underneath Route 4. The family of five people, three dogs, three cats and two bunnies were safe, but the home was not.

The FEMA money wasn’t enough to demolish the home and rebuild it on a raised platform as they had initially hoped.

“We couldn’t afford to do all that,” Casey Mispel said.

Instead, they took it down to the studs and rebuilt it, including a new addition for a master bedroom. In the meantime, the family stayed in a camper nearby.

“You just have a whole new appreciation for your home after living in your camper for as long as we did,” she said.

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The family is grateful to Mispel’s parents and aunt and uncle who assisted with the reconstruction. Her parents bought Casey and her husband, Nathan, a new bed. They were able to salvage the two older children’s loft beds and bought a new toddler bed for their youngest.

“We put his up just as high as the other beds, just in case,” she said.

The family is hopeful that the Vermont Agency of Transportation might address the culvert that flooded the property both in July and during Tropical Storm Irene in 2011.

“We’re hopeful that it won’t happen again,” she said. “We’d like to have some way to close (the culvert) off in case the water starts backing up.”

While the flooding this past summer was traumatic and brought back memories of a similar trauma in Irene, the Mispels have recovered.

“God has definitely helped us to heal and to come out of this better,” she said. “Everybody seems OK.”