Brookfield Floating Bridge lost
by Guy Page
Vermont will pay 25% of of the federal disaster relief package being discussed today by FEMA and state officials.
As this news story is being written at 12:51 PM, Gov. Phil Scott and Federal Emergency Management Administrator Deanne Criswell are flying across Vermont, evaluating the damage wrought so far by this week’s flooding. President Biden has signed a federal emergency declaration for Vermont. The amount of the funding depends on the extent of the damage, FEMA officials said at a press conference today.
FEMA funds are designed to flow directly to the executive branch, so legislative action won’t be needed. It’s unlikely the administration will seek to rework the 2024 budget due to flood-related funding pressures.
However, the Legislature is scheduled to return briefly in October to consider the impeachment of two Franklin County elected officials, the sheriff and the state’s attorney. Any changes to the 2024 state budget in light of the flood could be considered then.
Secretary of Transportation Joe Flynn announced a relatively good piece of news for the longterm recovery: only two bridges statewide are known to be lost, compared to a much higher number during Storm Irene in 2011. The iconic Floating Bridge in Brookfield (which survived Irene) and a bridge on Rte. 132 in Vershire, a small Orange County town, were destroyed.
Highway infrastructure has fared much better this week than during Irene, in part because immediately after that storm the State of Vermont put river engineers and highway engineers in the same cubicles and instructed them to work together to minimize future flood damage, Flynn said.
Statewide, 46 roads are still closed. 33 other roads were re-opened. Seven roads are partially closed.
Shelter use by Vermonters made homeless by the flood is significantly below capacity: Barre Auditorium, 58 people. Cavendish and Woodstock shelters, 0. Rutland High School, 4. Hartford High School, 3. Ludlow, 8. Smugglers Notch, 45 – reflecting Lamoille County as today’s ‘hot spot’ of search and rescue.