It was the last weekend of August 2011, and frequent rains had already saturated the soil; rivers and streams were running fast and high in the Berkshires and southern Vermont.
Residents and visitors tracked Hurricane Irene, reduced to the lowest category 1 as it approached the Northeast coast. Forecasters predicted heavy rain, flooding and high winds inland. Emergency preparations were widespread in western New England. The storm shifted to the west, hitting land at New York City and then passing over Berkshire County and central Vermont.
Downgraded to a tropical storm, it still packed a punch — dumping torrents on Aug. 27 and 28, saving its knockout blows for Northern Berkshire County, the hill towns and much of Vermont. President Obama declared Berkshire and Franklin counties a major disaster area. The storm's effects on Berkshire County were considered the worst since the "Great Hurricane" of Sept. 20, 1938.