For Immediate Release:
Wednesday, August 25, 2021
Jason Maulucci, Press Secretary
Office of the Governor
Mark Bosma, Public Information Officer
Vermont Emergency Management
Brandon, Vt. – Governor Phil Scott and members of his administration came together with local officials to recognize the 10-year anniversary of Tropical Storm Irene (which is Saturday, August 28) and highlight Vermont’s recovery from the storm.
“This is a somber anniversary as we reflect on the damage done, lost homes, and worst of all, the seven people who died during and in the immediate aftermath of the storm,” Governor Scott said. “At the same time, we all saw that Irene brought out the best in Vermonters, with countless acts of courage and kindness shown to friends, neighbors, and strangers. What’s more, politics took a back seat to progress and after ten years of hard work, Vermont is stronger than we were before.”
The press conference was held in the Town of Brandon, which the Administration noted is one example of a town that was impacted by Irene and has taken advantage of federal dollars earmarked to mitigate the impact of future storms. A media tour through town highlighted measures like better drainage through larger and more efficient culverts in its downtown, the purchase and removal of structures in areas of repetitive damage, and altered floodplains to better divert waters away from structures and public infrastructure.
“Breaking the cycle of disaster will only happen with time and investment in hazard mitigation projects that substantially improve our infrastructure resilience,” Vermont Emergency Management Director Erica Bornemann said. “The only way to do that is to enhance floodplain storage, harden and improve infrastructure such as roads, bridges and critical buildings, and many other measures that can be paid for through the federal and state Hazard Mitigation Grant programs.”
The Governor also highlighted work done by local, state, and federal responders during Irene that helped avoid further loss of life and begin rebuilding Vermont’s infrastructure.
“During the storm Search and Rescue teams performed over 150 rescues from floodwaters; local responders also helped those in danger; private contractors as well as State crews were on the ground making roads passable as soon as floodwaters subsided, and the list goes on – this was an all-hands-on-deck response,” the Governor added.
The Agency of Transportation, private contractors and local road crews began emergency road repairs almost immediately, and eventually repaired more than 500 miles of Vermont roads. These efforts earned national recognition as the work on Route 4 was heralded by national media for the speed in which crews made the road passable.
“Entire sections of road were completely gone, and bridges were impassible, or all gone,” said Transportation Secretary Joe Flynn, who led AOT’s Irene recovery efforts in southern Vermont. “I saw a call-to-action to repair and recover such that I had never seen before. Vermonters rallied across the state. More than 700 VTrans employees were assigned to the response and almost 100 relocated for months. What we witnessed that day, and in the days, weeks and months to follow, was truly remarkable in both the destructive force from Irene and the force of will in Vermont to respond and recover.”
For more information on the Hazard Mitigation Grant program visit: www.vem.vermont.gov/funding/mitigation.