Gov. Peter Shumlin today released the third Irene recovery report entitled "Sustaining our Progress," which charts the accomplishments since the June 2012 Recovering Stronger Report, sets goals for the 2nd anniversary of the storm, and outlines the recovery the efforts that will continue into the recovery's third year and beyond.
"There are still Vermont families and businesses hurting from Tropical Storm Irene, and we cannot lose our focus on trying to make them whole," Gov. Shumlin said. "But it's also important to examine our accomplishments, see what's working and just as importantly, what's not, and take a moment to applaud just how far we've come since the August 2011 storm slammed our state."
Among the highlights of the report:
* Vermont's agencies continue to work closely together in the aftermath of the storm; silos that blocked agency cooperation on issues pre-Irene have not redeveloped. That cooperation is particularly evident between the Agencies of Natural Resources and Transportation, but also includes Agriculture, Human Services and Development and Community Affairs.
* Although there have been disagreements, FEMA has remained a working partner with the state. Since June 2012, Vermont has been awarded more than $50 million in additional Public Assistance grants, for a current total of $143 million.
* Though work will continue on many fronts, by the end of August, the FEMA-funded Disaster Case Management Program will be winding down, and the FEMA Joint Field Office will likely have been demobilized. It is anticipated that the Irene Recovery Office will be phased-out, with the coordination of the continuing recovery resting firmly within existing agencies, and interagency collaboration more fully institutionalized.
Accomplishments since the August 2012 report include:
* Closing individual recovery cases by late summer, just two years after a disaster that caused more than 7,000 homeowners to register damages with FEMA.
* The state breaking ground in January on a 25-bed psychiatric hospital in Berlin. Nearly $30 million of the $42.8 million price tag of the mental health requirements left in the wake of the August 2011 storm will be eligible for financial assistance from a combination of federal assistance and insurance proceeds. (The Vermont State Hospital was severely damaged by Irene flooding.)
* Boosting economic recovery. In March 2013 Vermont was allocated $17.9 million in block grant funds, in addition to the $21.6 million already allocated to the state, for business and other economic recovery, housing replacement and infrastructure.
* Providing full compensation for properties located in flood-prone areas through the FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant Program.
* Coordinating recovery planning to minimize the impacts of future storms.
"As I toured Vermont after Tropical Storm Irene, I pledged to taxpayers and those directly impacted by the storm's impacts that we would recover stronger than Irene found us," Gov. Shumlin said. "As New York and New Jersey are learning in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, recovery takes time, patience and unwavering commitment.
"We've come a long way since August 2011, and we have a solid path for future recovery efforts," he said.