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Damaged in Transit

We knew something was up when we noticed the flashing blue lights. As we approached the intersection of routes 2 and 14, we saw what appeared to be a large wooden box flanked by a fire truck and a police car. Upon closer inspection, we realized the box was a house trailer lying on its side and completely blocking the eastbound lane.

As the second car in our lane to arrive at the light, we had a front row seat on the drama unfolding before us. A tow truck with a long bed was at that moment backing up towards the fallen trailer, directly in front of which was a squat green backhoe operated by a similarly shaped fellow in a t-shirt and shorts. As the tow truck beeped its back-up warning, the claw of the back hoe took hold of the wheeled trailer still connected to the underside of the fallen mobile home and pulled it free. It clattered to the pavement just behind the tow truck.

The driver of the truck fastened chains to the wheeled platform and after a few false starts, winched it aboard the truck bed. As soon as the tow truck moved out of the way, the back hoe approached the fallen trailer and began to push it toward the side of the road. Again and again, the claw took aim at its target, shoving it first at one end, then in the middle, then at the other end. With every blow, the trailer’s flimsy structure gave way; its walls caving in like a squeezed juice box. The toilet rolled onto the pavement followed by the kitchen stove, pieces of counter top and cupboards splintered and fell apart, the metal siding bent and folded in on itself.

The scene was surprisingly orderly. While the backhoe continued to push the disintegrating trailer off the roadway, several fellows armed with push brooms swept debris out of the traffic lanes, and orange-vested flaggers held the traffic at bay. As the cleanup efforts continued the lines of traffic continued to lengthen. Hundreds of vehicles — cars, pickups, motorcycles, and eighteen wheelers — sat idling in all four directions.

Absent from the scene was the truck on which the trailer had been transported and its driver who must have been mighty annoyed with whomever was responsible for securing the mobile home for the journey. Having seen how effortlessly the small backhoe had demolished this trailer, I thought of the countless residents of the nation’s sprawling mobile home parks and the folks whose trailers dot our rural back roads. What kind of shelter will their homes provide against the natural disasters that every year strike with increased frequency and ferocity?

Meanwhile, the backhoe moved what remained of the trailer to the side of the road. The sweepers cleared the bits and pieces of metal, plastic and wood from the pavement. The flaggers readied their signs and shouted into their walkie-talkies, and the westbound lane of traffic began to move. For us, the show was over and we needed groceries.

Photo Credit : Times Argus, May 7, 2021, staff photo by Jeb Wallace-Brodeur


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