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For Lebanon Mother, Help Came Quickly

  • Janet Ogilvie sits outside DHMC on Wednesday, Ogilvie had bee living in the Rivermere housing complex for two weeks before it was flooded, her son has been in the hospital for five months after being born premature. <br/>Valley News - Jennifer Hauck

    Janet Ogilvie sits outside DHMC on Wednesday, Ogilvie had bee living in the Rivermere housing complex for two weeks before it was flooded, her son has been in the hospital for five months after being born premature.
    Valley News - Jennifer Hauck Purchase photo reprints »

  • Janet and Braedon Ogilvie at DHMC photo credit

    Janet and Braedon Ogilvie at DHMC photo credit Purchase photo reprints »

  • Janet Ogilvie sits outside DHMC on Wednesday, Ogilvie had bee living in the Rivermere housing complex for two weeks before it was flooded, her son has been in the hospital for five months after being born premature. <br/>Valley News - Jennifer Hauck
  • Janet and Braedon Ogilvie at DHMC photo credit

Lebanon — For Janet Ogilvie, it had already been a rough day. Her infant son, born just 26 weeks into her pregnancy, had taken a turn for the worse in the neonatal intensive care unit.

On Monday evening, while he slept, Ogilvie returned to her apartment at the new Rivermere affordable housing complex to steal a few hours of sleep.

At 10 p.m. she awoke to darkness, the power out.

Stepping out of bed, she found herself ankle-deep in frigid, muddy water. Walking outside, she shone her cell phone in the direction of a nearby brook and saw the water foaming over the bank.

Shortly after that, Lebanon firefighters and apartment managers arrived to evacuate her and other residents. And as the rains returned to pound Lebanon Tuesday, the water just kept coming.

“My unit was hit the hardest because it’s at ground level,” said Ogilvie, a 36-year-old single mother from Laconia. “Everything is just floating.”

But Ogilvie wanted not to complain about her plight, but to praise the people who have been working to help her and her neighbors find a temporary shelter and limp along until — and if — their homes can be restored.

“They’ve gone above and beyond,” she said of officials from the Twin Pines Housing Trust, which only last week celebrated the 21-unit apartment complex’s opening at a ribbon-cutting. “If it was any other landlord, we’d be out on the streets.”

Officials arranged for rooms at nearby hotels and provided the displaced residents with food vouchers. While most went to the Baymont Inn and Suites in West Lebanon, Ogilvie said Twin Pines got her a room at the Days Inn on Route 120 so she could be closer to her baby at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.

This week’s developments were just the latest blow for Ogilvie. Braedon was born on Jan. 16, weighing just one pound, 13 ounces. Five and a half months later, the infant suffers from underdeveloped lungs and has to breathe through a tracheal tube connected to a ventilator.

“We almost lost him a few times since he was born,” Ogilvie said, her voice trembling.

Without a car or other resources, she had been living at the Upper Valley Haven shelter in Hartford and relying on the kindness of community members to give her rides. But then, two weeks ago, she got a chance to move into a ground-floor apartment at the new Rivermere complex. At the same time, at long last, Braedon seemed to be taking a turn for the better.

“We were getting the baby ready to come home,” she said. “And then he got critically ill over the weekend.”

And then, the rains.

Yesterday, Rivermere residents were offered the chance to return to the complex and attempt to salvage their belongings. Ogilvie chose to spend the day at the hospital, holding her baby. He smiled when she came in, settled into her arms and gummed his lower lip. For now, Ogilvie is patching it together hour-by-hour. She’s grateful for her hotel room and for the kindness of people she might not otherwise have known. With their help, she can focus on her boy.

“As long as he keeps fighting,” she said, “I will, too.”

Valley News Editor Jeffrey Good can be reached at jgood@vnews.com or (603) 727-3222.

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