Vt. marks 2 years since Irene’s flooding, damage
By WILSON RING
THE Associated Press | August 28,2013
AP FILE PHOTO
In this Aug. 31, 2011 photo, an excavator works on rebuilding Vermont Route 107 next to the White River in Bethel. Huge sections of the road were washed completely away. In what some consider a bit of an engineering marvel, a three-mile section of Route 107 between Bethel and Stockbridge, a major east-west highway that was destroyed by the storm, was rebuilt and reopened in 119 days, a job that normally would have taken two years.
MONTPELIER — Two years ago, Dot’s diner was practically wiped out when Tropical Storm Irene poured down on interior New England, causing massive flooding, killing dozens of people in the region and forever altering the landscape.
The Wilmington eatery was to be held up as an example of Vermont’s resilience and spirit Wednesday as the state marks the second anniversary of the deadly storm and celebrates milestones in its recovery.
Gov. Peter Shumlin, who was to tour Dot’s renovation, said the anniversary is an opportunity to recognize the state’s recovery and to remember those who have not yet made a full comeback.
While Vermont is nearing the end of its official recovery, hundreds of people and businesses are still trying to return to normal and some are still looking for permanent housing.
Two summers ago, Irene dumped up to 11 inches of rain on parts of Vermont, turning rivers into torrents and sweeping away homes, roads, bridges and farm fields. Six Vermont residents were killed, thousands were left homeless and the storm damaged or destroyed more than 200 bridges and 500 miles of highway. Of the state’s 251 towns, 225 had infrastructure damage.
Shumlin was to release a report Wednesday on the state’s recovery and recommendations to reduce the damage of future storms. Later in the day he was to travel to a covered bridge in Taftsville, between Woodstock and Quechee, that has undergone $2.5 million in repairs after being damaged by floodwaters.
The governor also was scheduled to make stops in Killington and Rochester, which was among a dozen communities that were cut off after flooding severed access to main roads. Army National Guard helicopters ferried emergency provisions of food, water and medicine to the community until the road links could be repaired.
The state and federal governments have spent more than $565 million to help with Vermont’s recovery. That doesn’t include private donations and money that people have spent on their own.
On Thursday, Shumlin is expected to announce federal funding for repairs to the Waterbury state office complex, much of which was abandoned after floodwaters from Winooski River inundated it. The state is waiting for funding for its $124 million plan for the complex.