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. Peter Shumlin today visited 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 Vermont'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," the Governor said at Memorial Hall in Wilmington, before dining on Dot's Restaurant chili to commemorate the renovation of the iconic downtown business that was destroyed during the storm. Mark Landry, Federal Coordinating Officer for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, joined the Governor at the stop.
"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 added.
He 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 continued. The just-released 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.
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," the Governor concluded. 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.