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Irene Lessons Aid Colorado Flood Recovery

AP/Ed Andrieski

Deputy Transportation Secretary Sue Minter has been in Colorado all week helping officials in that state deal with the aftermath of massive floods, and Minter says key elements of Vermont’s recovery plan after tropical storm Irene have proven to be very helpful in Colorado.

Minter played a pivotal role helping rebuild Vermont’s transportation infrastructure in the weeks and months following Irene.

She says the flood conditions in Colorado are very similar to those in Vermont during Irene.

“The mountains and our narrow river valleys, the kind of flooding and destruction where rivers and small creeks became raging torrents and just tearing out everything in its path, roads, bridges, houses and everything in between,” says Minter.  “Very, very similar to what we experienced in Irene.”

When everyone has a very clear role and responsibility and a clear chain of command that is when you can run things quickly and effectively - Deputy Transportation Secretary Sue Minter

Minter says one of the most important steps her agency took in the post Irene recovery period was putting together a new organizational structure that divided all work into four categories; logistics, operations, planning and administrative duties.  She refers to this as “the incident command structure,” and she says it’s been very effective in Colorado.

“Because it’s just completely different from our normal way of doing business where we spend months to years designing a project and it goes through a variety of processes, here it has to be done in rapid fire and everything needs to be done quickly,” says Minter. “When everyone has a very clear role and responsibility and a clear chain of command that’s when you can run things quickly and effectively.”

Minter says she’s also encouraging Colorado officials to begin building temporary roads to towns that are isolated because of the floods, and to think about constructing more permanent highways next spring.

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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