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Montpelier businesses still facing challenges one year after the flood

Walking around downtown Montpelier today, it's hard to believe the city experienced catastrophic floods just a year ago. It’s been estimated that roughly 140 downtown businesses suffered more than $20 million in damages in just a 24-hour period.

Under the surface of a clean and welcoming downtown business district, the effects of the flood and the lingering fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic have brought the economic future of Montpelier into question.

While many businesses remain committed to being located in downtown Montpelier, they face a dramatic decline in state employees working in the city. That's troubling for a downtown that relies heavily on foot traffic. It’s a trend that started with the pandemic, when state employees began working remotely. Since last July, that trend has been exacerbated by enormous damages that the flood caused to state buildings in the downtown Capitol Complex, rendering in-person office work nearly impossible for some state departments.

It could take three to four years to get the buildings fully renovated and reopened.

It remains a major question for many downtown businesses if they can hold on while the state’s recovery plan unfolds over the coming years.

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Bob Kinzel has been covering the Vermont Statehouse since 1981 — longer than any continuously serving member of the Legislature. With his wealth of institutional knowledge, he answers your questions on our series, "Ask Bob."
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