Tropical Storm Irene cut a vicious swathe through central and southern Vermont, severely damaging 500 miles of road and 200 bridges. Many Vermont farmers were flooded, without power, and lost equipment, buildings, crops, and livestock. Vermont AgrAbility worked collaboratively with University of Vermont Extension, Vermont Center for Independent Living, and Farm First providing relief services including: navigating FEMA, connecting farmers with various state and federal loan programs, and finding emergency management resources.Vermont Strong grass roots volunteers and National Guard soldiers from across the country worked tirelessly to help rural citizens dig mud from their homes and businesses, deliver food and fuel to isolated farms, reestablish communication, and open roads. AgrAbility staff mobilized the Vermont Department of Health to provide N95 dust masks to farmers dealing with toxic dust, especially when chopping flood contaminated corn, hay, and grains. Vermont's small independent farmers suffered severe losses in their river bottom farms; some land was lost to the rivers for generations to come. Recovery and relief operations are ongoing through www.vtfloodresponse.org.
Submitted by Margaret Gilman