Vermont still working to recover from Irene
WALLINGFORD, Vt. — Two years after Tropical Storm Irene washed 10 acres of crops and an entire field of top soil down a valley between the Vermont mountains, Evening Song Farm is distributing produce again. But it will be years, if ever, before the ground is productive again.
Kara Fitzgerald and Ryan Wood-Beauchamp now grow their crops on a hillside about a mile away. The soil there is damp and not as good as the bottom land along the river, but with careful attention, over time, it can get better.
Like thousands of Vermonters whose lives were forever changed by Irene, the 28-year-old vegetable farmers picked themselves up with help from strangers, a small amount of government assistance and a series of loans.
And work. Hard, never-ending work.
“In some ways we feel like the storm was yesterday. Our recovery is still full-on,” Fitzgerald said one recent morning as she took a break from picking carrots. “It was a real good opportunity to throw in the towel.”
Two summers after Irene dropped up to 11 inches of rain on parts of the Green Mountains, the state is nearing the end of its official recovery. The state and federal governments have spent more than $565 million to help Vermont recover — not including private donations and money people spent on their own — and the final bill is nowhere near ready to be counted.
There are still hundreds of people and businesses whose recovery is still in progress and some are still looking for permanent homes. Nevertheless, a series of celebrations and commemorations are planned for next week, starting on Wednesday's anniversary.
“It doesn't mean there isn't more work to do,” said Gov. Peter Shumlin, who will visit the hard-hit community of Wilmington on Wednesday and eat chili at Dot's, an iconic local restaurant all but destroyed by the storm but now a potent symbol of the town's resilience. “We're going to make sure everybody gets the help they need, and they will.”
When Irene roared up the coast, it killed at least 46 people in 13 states with a handful more in the Caribbean. Many in the northeast breathed a sigh of relief when the New York City area was largely spared.
But then the storm settled over the Green Mountains and Irene became the biggest natural disaster to hit Vermont since an epic 1927 flood.
Irene killed six in Vermont, left thousands homeless and damaged or destroyed more than 200 bridges and 500 miles of highway. Of the state's 251 towns, 225 had infrastructure damage.
Thirteen communities were cut off from the outside world after flooding washed out roads, electricity and telephone communication. National Guard helicopters spent days ferrying supplies to stranded residents.
When the waters receded at last, the state created a cabinet-level position to focus on recovery and opened nine long-term offices to help residents. More than 150 cases remain open.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Obama pledges support for France against ISIS, wary of role for Russia
- House Republicans call for refugee limits in spending bill
- GOP readies next assault on health care law
- Chicago cop charged with murder in killing of black teen
- Traffic deaths rise sharply in United States
- Obama, Hollande pledge solidarity against Islamic State
- 4 dead in Fort Hood chopper crash
- Scandals leave Oklahomans in dark
- Poor roads cost Connecticut motorists $5.1B annually, report finds
- Email address gives FBI lead on record theft of user IDs, passwords
- Judge hears Benghazi terror suspect’s challenge