Vermont Still Recovering From Irene

Seven months after the storm made landfall, Vermont farmers are still struggling to recover from Hurricane Irene.

Last August, cities and communities across the Eastern Seaboard were buffeted by Irene, which made landfall in North Carolina on August 27. Irene’s path threatened 65 million people, ranging from the Carolinas to Cape Cod in New England. In the United States, the storm killed 47 people and caused over $7 billion of damage.

In Vermont, where Irene was only the second tropical storm to make a direct hit in the state’s history, the damage was particularly severe. Almost stream and river in the state flooded and the storm caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damage to the state’s roads, highways, and bridges.

The state’s agricultural sector was also hard-hit, with thousands of acres of cropland flooded and littered with debris. Seven months after the storm, many farmers are still recovering. While most of the debris has been cleared, the storm deposited a layer of gravel and silt across farmland, choking off fertile land from sunlight and water. In order to plant and harvest a spring crop, farmers need to remove silt and sand, requiring them spends thousands of dollars to rent excavators, bulldozers, and other heavy machinery.

The federal and state governments have been attentive to the needs of Vermont farmers. The U.S. Department of Agriculture set aside nearly $5 million in the form of grants to help reimburse farmers for the costs of restoring their land. In addition, several state programs have been set up to help defer the worst of farmers’ costs.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer