Shumlin Asks Homeowners To Help Flood Victims

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(Host) With more than 700 homes destroyed or severely damaged by recent floods, the Shumlin administration has launched several initiatives to help people find housing.

The housing recovery plan includes a plea to second home-owners to open their property to displaced Vermonters.

VPR’s John Dillon has more:

(Dillon) When the Winooski River swept through a Duxbury trailer park, Susan Lavigne and her husband Mike just had time to pack a few clothes, grab their little dog and head for the door.

(Susan Lavigne) "We lost our home. We lost everything we had. I don’t have a picture of my children from when they were little. I’m just devastated. I don’t know what to say."

(Dillon) The Lavignes spent that night in a church in Waterbury. When they returned to the trailer park, they saw that their home and most of the others were ruined.  They don’t know when or if they can re-build. Mike Lavigne says they’ve pretty much hit rock bottom.

(Mike Lavigne) "As far as housing, me and Susan, her daughter has a home, but it’s in her basement. She runs a day care out of it. And, love her to death, but it has no windows."

(Dillon) Governor Peter Shumlin says state and federal officials are just starting to tally up the damage to housing. Irene was indiscriminate. The storm took out mobile home parks like the Lavignes’ along with century-old homes on Route 100 in Moretown.

(Shumlin) "We’ve identified 700 homes so far that are either severely damaged or destroyed. And we’re just warming up. I mean we’re still counting."

(Dillon) Shumlin was in Moretown to highlight steps his administration is taking to help with the housing problem. He’s named a housing task force to come up with solutions. And he urged those displaced by the storm to call 211, the general number for state assistance.

(Shumlin) "And frankly a good example to call this number is Mike and Susan who are living in their kind daughter’s basement. No windows. Not adequate air to breathe at night in terms of quality of life. No one should be living like that in Vermont right now. Dial 211 if that’s you’re situation and we’ll get you good permanent housing."

(Dillon) The Shumlin administration has also asked for a federal waiver that would make vacant apartments in federally supported housing available to displaced Vermonters, regardless of their income.

And the governor reached out to second home-owners, whose condominiums and vacation homes may be vacant.

(Shumlin) "We need you now. We need your generosity and your kindness in making these homes available to good, hard-working Vermonters who’ve lost their homes."

(Dillon) Shumlin said he got the idea from a woman who runs a cleaning business who was left homeless by the storm. The woman’s clients in Stowe have opened up their home to her and her family.

For VPR News, I’m John Dillon in Moretown.


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