Bernie traveled throughout the state with FEMA chief Craig Fugate, Gov. Shumlin and Rep. Welch to assess the extent of Irene’s terrible damage. Their helicopter landed in Ludlow, Wilmington, and Brattleboro and flew over other badly flooded towns. Bernie and the governor also visited the flooded state hospital and state office complex in Waterbury.
In the wake of the devastating storm, three people in Vermont have died, rail traffic stopped and nearly 300 roads and 30 bridges closed. Two days after the storm, nearly 20,000 Vermonters are still without power. Southern Vermont was hit particularly hard. Irene caused tens of millions of dollars in damage throughout the state. Rebuilding will be a long and costly process.
Help has already begun to arrive in Vermont. Thirty trucks from FEMA arrived at Camp Johnson in Colchester, stocked with emergency supplies, food and blankets.
“There are some who believe that this is the worst natural disaster to hit the state since the 1927 floods,” Bernie said. “Three people are dead. One person is missing. We're talking about hundreds of road closures. You're talking about the rail lines being shut down, the state office complex in Waterbury being shut down … We have got some very, very serious problems.”
On Monday, President Barack Obama declared a state of emergency in Vermont. Bernie has been speaking with U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood throughout this week about the need for the federal government to make sure Vermont can rebuild its transportation infrastructure after the powerful floods ripped up roads and destroyed bridges all over the state. “We are one nation that comes together, that says, as Americans, we are going to rebuild,” Bernie said.