More Than 4 Years Later, Vermont Still Repairing Damage From Irene

April 13, 2016

Vermont officials say they will continue to pursue projects as towns recover from flooding caused by Tropical Storm Irene.

Vermont Public Radio reports that about 30 unfinished infrastructure projects around the state remain after the 2011 storm.

Ben Rose, the recovery and mitigation chief at the Vermont Department of Public Safety, says that some of the projects slowed to a crawl after Vermont started requesting more money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to improve its flood resiliency.

“We started in a very bad place with FEMA,” Rose said. “And the first year and a half were a fairly adversarial process with FEMA on many of these projects.”

The southern Vermont town of Jamaica recently re-opened a bridge over the Winhall River that was destroyed in the storm. Paul Fraser, who led the town’s recovery effort, said replacing the bridge was a problem because the state had a set of regulations that needed to be met, and that FEMA also had its own regulations that needed to be met.

“They were in conflict … for about three years,” Fraser said.

He said the town continued to plead its case.

“Clearly we will play the game by their rules … I’m not complaining about it at all, it’s just a grind,” Fraser said.

Rose said that the relationship with FEMA has improved since Irene, and that the process is moving forward.

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