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'Vermont Strong' license plates, socks and donations raised $1 million for flood relief

A man in a white button-down shirt stands at a podium and holds up a license plate that reads "We are Vermont strong. Tough, too! '23"
Bob Kinzel
Vermont Public
Gov. Phil Scott presents a new Vermont Strong license plate at a news conference Aug. 1, 2023.

The state of Vermont raised about $1 million for flood relief from the sale of Vermont Strong 2023 license plates and Darn Tough socks and related donations following last summer's catastrophic flooding.

That's about on par with similar efforts after Tropical Storm Irene.

The state sold 30,000 plates and 3,000 pairs of socks for a total of $1.1 million in gross revenue. After production costs, the remaining amount was split evenly between the Agency of Commerce and Community Development’s Business Gap Emergency Assistance Program and the Vermont Community Foundation.

The two funds each received $460,000.

Chief Recovery Effort Doug Farnham said “Vermont Strong” was a valuable piece in an array of private support for flood recovery in Vermont.

“After a major disaster like this — this is larger than Irene, honestly, from a financial perspective — we have to just chip away at it and try as many different things as we can,” Farnham said.

People also had the option to donate an amount of their choice to a special state fund that helps pay for removal of manufactured homes that were condemned due to flood damage. More than 800 donors chose this option, donating $128,000 total.

Two thousand “Vermont Strong” and 7,500 “Vermont Strong Tough Too” plates remain unsold.

Farnham said the plates drew people's attention, but there's still a lot of unmet need months later.

"I think that energy and that awareness is probably the most important thing after a flood," Farnham said. "I do think people feel like the flood is in the rear view mirror. For hundreds of Vermont families, it’s not. They’re still dealing with flood repairs, they’re still dealing with the fallout."

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Corey Dockser is Vermont Public’s first data journalist, a role combining programming and journalism to produce stories that would otherwise go unheard. His work ranges from complex interactive visualizations to simple web scraping and data cleaning. Corey graduated from Northeastern University in 2022 with a BS in data science and journalism. He previously worked at The Buffalo News in Buffalo, New York as a Dow Jones News Fund Data Journalism intern, and at The Boston Globe.
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