(Host) Communities hit hard by Tropical Storm Irene are now racing the clock to get critical recovery work done before winter arrives.
And as VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports, there are a wide variety of priorities that local towns want to address before temperatures drop below freezing.
(Kinzel) In the days following Tropical Storm Irene, the community of Rochester was isolated from the rest of Vermont because of severe damage to the town’s roads and bridges.
Sandy Haas represents Rochester in the Vermont House. She says strong volunteer efforts have helped the town begin to recover from the devastating impact of Irene but she says there’s one big project that needs to be addressed soon.
(Haas) "The big thing right now is getting the Route 73 Bridge reopened. We still have people who can only go to work but having two cars. They keep one on one side of the river and one of the other side of the river and they walk between them. It’s far less than ideal. The good news is that the Bethel mountain road is open – I came over it today. It was just as quick as it ever was in good weather which was amazing. Route 4 reopened, so that we can now get to Rutland. So we’re starting to have access in all directions."
(Kinzel) Rebecca Ellis is a state representative for Waterbury. She says her community’s biggest challenge is finding long term housing for dozens of people displaced by the floods.
(Ellis) "To give a sense of perspective there are about 635 parcels in the Village of Waterbury and over 200 of those were impacted by the flood and some of those structures housed businesses and some of them housed multiple families and some of them were single home structures.Of that, we know that 83 are actively looking for housing right now."
(Kinzel) The main business area of Wilmington was severely damaged by the flood waters.
Rep. Ann Manwaring says getting these businesses back on their feet is the top priority.
(Manwaring) "Our biggest challenge is actually bringing back our economic infrastructure in the village. Some 40 businesses were literally put out of business and 120 employees – that is the whole economic base of our town. And so we’re proceeding down some paths that are dealing with that in hopefully some creative ways."
(Kinzel) Manwaring says the town is hoping for an influx of tourists this fall to help some of the businesses recover from the floods.
For VPR News, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.