Irene Recovery Efforts Going Strong

12/28/11 5:50PM By Steve Zind
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AP/Toby Talbot
Rocks for rebuilding Route 107 are dumped from a train on Friday in Bethel. State officials will mark the reopening of Vermont Route 107, the last state highway closed by flooding from tropical storm Irene to reopen.

(Host) Irene recovery officials say even four months after the flood, the effort to rebuild - and to help families hit by the storm - is still going strong.

VPR's Steve Zind reports.

(Zind) The storm may be a receding memory to many Vermonters, but outgoing Irene Recovery Officer Neale Lunderville says the state is still concerned about assisting displaced families. Lunderville says officials are working to identify those still in need of proper housing.

(Lunderville) "They say they're okay and they think they're okay, but the cold temperatures really haven't hit yet. They may be living in an RV, they may be living in the home that was flooded and it's really not up to snuff for the winter time. As winter creeps in and those temperatures really start to dip down, we're going to see more of those Vermont families coming out and say, ‘I still have needs.'"

(Zind) Lunderville says there's also a group of people who have housing but whose financial losses go beyond the assistance offered by FEMA. It's hoped that local and statewide fundraising can help fill the gap in coming months.

And while the last stretch of damaged state highway is officially opening this week, the Agency of Transportation says it will be closely monitoring repairs to see if they hold up over the winter.

Sue Minter is the Deputy Secretary of Transportation. She says the agency has put together a rapid response team that will be deployed if repairs are needed.

(Minter) "We need to be very concerned about what spring will bring. It really depends on the weather. If we have a tremendous snow melt coupled with high precipitation levels as we had this April and May we could be in for more flooding and we don't know at this point how the emergency repairs we've made across the system will sustain themselves with major flooding."

(Zind) Minter says the agency continues to review its response to Irene and plans to change how it responds to future emergencies based on the lessons it's learned.

For VPR news, I'm Steve Zind.

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