The rivers of New England spent last week recovering from their stroke of autumn apoplexy. As they shrank back to normal, the mills that they used to turn, the power plants they used to keep humming, emerged from the flood covered with muck. Winter began to shut down and the muck froze. Much New England industry was crippled for months to come.

The people of New England followed the receding margins of the flood and returned to their riverside towns. Dunes of silt and wreckage filled streets and houses. Food and fuel were scarce. Communication...

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