Vermont Gov. Shumlin Issues Final Tropical Storm Irene Report

August 29, 2013

Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin released the state’s Tropical Storm Irene recovery status report during a press conference on Wednesday marking the two-year anniversary of the storm.

Over 3,500 damaged or destroyed homes and businesses have been restored or replaced since Irene swept through Vermont two years ago (Photo courtesy of Vermont Governor's Office)
Exactly two years after Tropical Storm Irene swept over the state, destroying homes and businesses, wiping out roads and bridges, and killing six Vermonters, Gov. Shumlin visited Wilmington, one of the hardest-hit communities, to release the final report documenting the state’s recovery from the Aug. 28, 2011, storm, and setting forth the state’s resiliency plan in the face of future storms.

The report also confirms what state officials have been referring to as a $750 million-to-$1 billion disaster. Figures of $850 million in combined funds toward the recovery effort were reported to date, including roughly $600 million in federal funding.

“As this report illustrates, we have a lot to celebrate today. More than 500 miles of state roads have been repaired, hundreds of bridges replaced or repaired, thousands of Vermonters now safe in flood-resistant housing, and hundreds of businesses re-opened,” Gov. Shumlin said.

“But we lost our family members, friends and neighbors in that storm. Those tragedies were heart-wrenching, and we will not forget those who lost their lives in the storm.”

Gov. Shumlin said the state will also not forget about the families and businesses still struggling to fully recover from the devastation – Vermonters still displaced or living in unsuitable housing, and businesses trying to rebuild and recover from the loss. “We have not forgotten you, and will not stop fighting until the job is done,” the governor said.

“But we have much to be proud of just two years after the storm,” the governor said. The final report outlines all of the work and progress since the storm, which dumped up to 11 inches of rain on the state, took down trees and power lines with winds exceeding 60 miles per hour, and created damage in 225 of 251 towns across the state.

An aerial view of homes along Route 100 after the raging White River tore through Rochester, Vt., when Irene swept through the state. (Photo courtesy of Vermont Governor's Office)

The report also notes that Irene brought to light small and large gaps in the state’s safety nets. “In responding, we learned about the need to eliminate silos among state agencies to support recovery for our most vulnerable citizens and neighbors,” according to the report. “Interagency collaboration has increased, and we’ve taken a comprehensive approach to flood-smart community and land use planning,” the report said.

Among the damage repaired, restored or replaced:

• 963 damaged culverts
• 13 isolated communities
• Over 3,500 damaged or destroyed homes and businesses
• Over 20,000 acres of flooded farmland
• 17 severely flooded mobile home parks
• 7,252 households registered with FEMA for Individual Assistance
• Over 500 miles of state roads repaired

Recovery funding includes:

• $23.3 million from FEMA through the Individual Assistance Program
• $17.6 million loaned by Small Business Administration to individuals and families
• $250,000 provided by Budget Adjustment Act for Disaster Recovery Coordinators
• $165 million from the Federal Highway Administration
• $225.6 million from the FEMA Public Assistance program
• $39.6 million from HUD in Community Development Block Grant funding

“Perhaps the greatest legacy of Irene will be in our state and local preparation, planning and recovery efforts,” Gov. Shumlin said. In the aftermath of Irene, nine long term recovery committees (LTRCs), as well as many other community organizations, developed in the hardest hit areas. Gov. Shumlin said those groups would continue to be active, recognizing that climate change will, unfortunately, guarantee more frequent, stronger storms in the future.

Source: Office of Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin

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