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Vt. Marks 2 Years Since Irene's Flooding, Damage

VPR/Nancy Eve Cohen

Two years ago Tropical Storm Irene inundated much of Vermont.  It was the beginning of a long recovery process that still continues.

Governor Peter Shumlin was in Wilmington Wednesday to mark the storm’s anniversary and release the final Irene Recovery Status report.

Downtown Wilmington was especially hard hit by the flood. The Deerfield River took over the main street, including the famous Dot’s Restaurant. But now there’s a bit of celebration in the air.

“Everybody say ‘Dot’s!’”

The Governor posed for a picture one of the owners and workers from Dot’s. They served chili, outside.

“This is the best chili you can get anywhere in the world!” said the Governor as he had a bowlful. “That you can get right here at Dot’s and it’s back!”

Dot’s is not quite back yet, but it’s had a lot of help as it recovers.  Addressing a crowd earlier, the Governor saluted those who rolled up their sleeves to assist. He said Vermonters do things differently than the rest of the world.

“We are a place when tragedy strikes, when the worst happens, we turn to those who are friends,” said Shumlin,  “and those who are strangers and  say ‘How can I help? How can I help?’”

Shumlin noted 500 miles of roads that were rebuilt along with one thousand culverts and dozens of bridges.

The newly-released Irene Recovery report  counted more than $600 million from the federal government  in aid and nearly $145 million from the state.

Shumlin also recalled those who died.

“With all the good work that we’ve done and all the good work that lies ahead we can’t give back the people that the storm took,” said Shumlin. “And I hope that we’ll remember in our thoughts, in our prayers, in our spirits those people who lost their lives helping us be protected and recover.”

Shumlin also says many are still recovering, including those who are waiting for a check for a federal buyout.

“There’s a lot of people sitting right in this hall who still aren’t back who still don’t have back what they lost.”

A representative from FEMA also addressed the crowd and promised the agency would not leave until all the work is done. The Governor called on the people of the state to remember that the recovery continues.

“Let’s make today’s anniversary about remaining focused to solve the rest of the challenges that Vermonters are still facing,” said Shumlin. “That’s our job together.”

To that end the Governor said the state is still wrangling with FEMA over how much money the federal government will provide to rebuild the state office complex in Waterbury.

Nancy Cohen covers southern Vermont's recovery from Tropical Storm Irene. Her work is supported by the VPR Journalism Fund.
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