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Landing at Burlington airport, I realized to my surprise that I had not set foot in Vermont for more than five years. Shortly after my last visit, in August 2011, the state suffered the onslaught of Hurricane Irene. What began as a characteristic coastal hurricane veered into New England and unleashed the worst meteorological assault since the infamous storm of 1938. Rivers overflowed, washing out bridges and roads. But, with predictable Yankee grit, Vermonters undertook repairs, and it is now impossible to tell that such devastation ever took place. Vermont may be the embodiment of an idealized New England, with its white clapboard houses, sky-piercing steeples and stately Greek Revival public buildings, but it is important to remember that the towns are so lovely because of constant preservation efforts by succeeding generations.