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QUECHEE, Vermont (Reuters) – When Hurricane Irene’s torrential rains transformed the sleepy Ottauquechee River into a roaring wall of gray-green water a year ago, the Simon Pearce glass and pottery gallery’s future was in doubt.

Located in a renovated woolen mill on a narrow gap by the river, flood waters surged 25 feet (7.6 metres) above normal, filling the bottom two floors of one of Vermont’s most popular tourist attractions. It destroyed more than $200,000 in blown glass vases and tableware and wiped out a 3,000-bottle wine cellar for the gallery’s restaurant.

On top of that, Irene washed out a covered bridge that was the gallery’s main link to the state highway that brought most of Simon Pearce’s 300,000 annual visitors.

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