Dan Smith: August 9 Update from our VT Flood Response & Recovery Fund
image credit: John Lazenby
It’s been three weeks since the torrential rains that flooded so many of our families, friends, and neighbors. Slowly, in many towns, the trash and debris are being hauled away from sidewalks; homes and businesses are airing out. And many of our fellow Vermonters are trying to make sense of where they go from here. But for some, the process of cleaning up is just getting started. As of today, only 5 counties of Vermont’s 14 remain outside the emergency disaster declaration. Addison County, which has yet to be declared by FEMA, received six inches of rainfall overnight last Thursday into Friday, leading to more flooding and destruction. And on Friday, downtown Rutland was hit hard by more rain.
Third Round of Grants
Your support has made it possible for the VCF to award another $1,069,338 in grants from the Vermont Flood Response and Recovery Fund 2023 to organizations throughout Vermont. To date, the Vermont Flood Response and Recovery Fund 2023 has awarded more than $2 million in grants, reaching more than 60 towns across the state. For just a sample of how these grants play out locally, I encourage you to read this post about the work your donations made possible in hard-hit Johnson. Thanks to you, this kind of coordinated support is possible across the state.
The latest grants will support organizations that are reaching out to help residents of flooded mobile home parks, assist with neighbor-to-neighbor volunteer efforts, and continue to provide food to people affected by the flood, including older Vermonters and New American farmers who lost gardens and crops.
Some grants will help flood-damaged health clinics with repairs and will support organizations providing addiction recovery services and supportive mental health care; other grants support public libraries serving as hubs for flood relief services; and the clean-up of waterways that were filled with tires, appliances, construction debris, and other trash in the flooding.
The funds will also help with the coordination of complex, longer-term recovery involving local, state, and federal partners to rebuild economic opportunity, housing, and support flood resilience. Many businesses in hard-hit communities remain closed, and property owners in some cases face a maze of paperwork to sort out what public and private funds they may qualify for to repair damage or if necessary, receive federal buyouts. The most recent grants continue to support nonprofits that are assisting with business district recovery. You can read the full list of partners receiving grants at vtfloodresponse.org/grantees.
Our grants team continues to monitor progress in communities and respond as needed, as they also begin to focus on Phase 2 of our three-phase response and recovery strategy. Phase 2 is about building back communities, with an emphasis on:
- Housing and shelter, including support for home repair, rebuilding differently, and resources for mobile home parks.
- Farm recovery, including support for coordination efforts and resources for those growers whose crops or products are eligible for less federal support.
- Main street vitality, including support for the continued recovery of businesses and support for the revitalization of historic buildings affected by flooding.
- Mental health and wellbeing, including support for crisis counseling, stress and psychological first aid training for local leaders, longer-term support for survivors and responders, and efforts that build social connection in communities.
Outpouring of Generosity Continues
We continue to see incredible generosity from the community both in and beyond Vermont. The Vermont Flood Response and Recovery Fund 2023 has taken in $6.1 million since its inception. (This total includes $5.4 million in gifts and $700,000 in pledges.)
Our friends at Darn Tough donated an entire day’s worth of online sales proceeds—more than $154,000. Vermont-born musician Noah Kahan pledged a portion of the proceeds from the livestream of his concert at Red Rocks in Colorado. A few days later, at his concert in Burlington, Feeding Chittenden collected more than 450 pounds of food for folks in need. Businesses donated generously, matched employee contributions, and earmarked sales proceeds. Artists created special pieces. Others used their networks to encourage donations. Everywhere, folks used their talents, their products, and their networks to raise money for Vermonters.
Among the many contributors from the past week:
Turtle Fur · Sunset Lake CBD · Farmhouse Pottery · Stowe Street Cafe · Stowe Cider · Unilever · Weybridge Congregational Church · Waitsfield Telecom · Passumpsic Savings Bank · Concept2 · Lakeshore Financial Group · Merrimack County Savings Bank · Ri Ra Burlington · United Church of Christ Congregational, Boxborough · American Flatbread · M&T Charitable Foundation · West Lane Flowers · The Flynn · Seven Days · Humane Society of Chittenden County · CashorTrade · Blake Hill Preserves · Allagash Brewing Co. · American Bankers Association · and musical artists Ships Have Sailed and Twiddle
The Work Continues
The need for assistance continues, as affected communities dig more deeply into the daunting task of recovery. The contributions to the flood fund are helping on many levels and showing hard-hit families, business owners, and farmers that all of Vermont wants to pitch in. To everyone who has given to the fund, we are tremendously grateful. The recovery is a long-haul project but thanks to the generosity of so many people, we are helping Vermont make progress toward a strong comeback.
As a reminder, you can stay connected to the work we’re able to do together by visiting vtfloodresponse.org. We will be populating the site with more updates and with stories of the recovery that your contributions make possible.
As always, thank you for all you do to lift up Vermont and help us rebuild.
President & CEO