Nancy Eve Cohen

Nancy Cohen covers southern Vermont's recovery from Tropical Storm Irene. Her work is supported by the VPR Journalism Fund.

When Tropical Storm Irene raged through Vermont it shattered homes and businesses, roads and bridges. 1,400 households were displaced.  Many people were left with nothing, except the muddied remnants of their belongings. Some lost their homes and their jobs. The storm had eroded the foundations of many people’s lives. But others reached out to help.

Interactive Map Of FEMA Funds Distributed/Allocated In Vermont

VPR/Nancy Eve Cohen

As George Thomson strides through his partially-built house he tosses words of encouragement to carpenters working there.

“Hello! Doing Some Trim?” He shouts over the wail of a saw.  “Excellent! Excellent!”

Thomson and his wife Linda are learning the art of patience. They’ve moved four times since Tropical Storm Irene destroyed their old home on Lake Pauline in Ludlow nearly two years ago. They hope to move into this new house within weeks.

Thomson, a 64-year-old elementary school principal, used to have other plans for this summer.

View a town-by-town breakdown of FEMA Irene assistance at VPR's Mapping the Money Project.

The State is accepting a final round of applications for FEMA funding to pay for projects that would reduce the risk of future flood damage.

So far FEMA has approved $14.7 million in ‘Hazard  Mitigation’ grants to recover from Tropical Storm Irene in Vermont. Most of that has gone to buy flood damaged homes and a few businesses. Now, another  $11 million is available for more buyouts and other projects.

VPR/Nancy Eve Cohen

VPR's Mapping the Money project is an effort to track where Irene relief funds came from and how they were spent. First, we check in with a family in Peru.

For a time, people who are trying to move on from a flood, like Irene, may feel squeezed financially.

Vermonters Jen and Dave Morris are still paying for their flood-damaged house, even though they’ve moved into a new one.  The mountain top view from their new home in Peru is like a wide hug from nature.

The Vermont Disaster Relief Fund has announced it has the funds to help Vermonters whose homes were damaged in the floods that occurred in late May. The state estimates 10 homes suffered major damage. 60 to 70 properties had minor damage.

About two weeks ago heavy rain and flooding damaged roads and houses in Chittenden, Essex and Lamoille counties. Chris Graff, a board member of the Vermont Disaster Relief Fund, says at this point there’s no federal funding available to help homeowners recover

VPR/Nancy Eve Cohen

The Windham and Bennington County Regional Commissions have received $472,000 in disaster recovery funding from the federal government. The goal is to revitalize the economy in Southern Vermont, an area hard hit by the 2011 flood. Part of the grant will pay for a series of workshops to help strengthen village centers and downtowns. The first will be held Tuesday night in Wilmington.

Laura Sibilia says the workshops are designed to help each community develop a plan to make their village or downtown more resilient in the long term.

VPR/Nancy Eve Cohen

Three property owners whose homes were destroyed by Tropical Storm Irene just got word that FEMA will not approve them for a federal program that buys flood-damaged properties.

In the aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene, some property owners in Vermont cleared away their flood-damaged homes that were on the brink of collapse.

The property owners were concerned that if they left their damaged homes standing it would create a safety hazard---and put them at risk of liability. 

VPR/Nancy Eve Cohen

Many Vermonters enjoy living close to the state’s beautiful rivers and streams. But the Agency of Natural Resources is helping cities and towns consider whether they want to give waterways more room to move and flood by restricting development. But even talk of restrictions can stir up opposition.

Chris Campany, the director of the Windham Regional Commission is sitting next to Whetstone Brook in Brattleboro which flooded the streets during Tropical Storm Irene. Campany said the power of waterways like this one inspired the earliest development in Vermont. 

Agency of Natural Resources / Map of Water Street in Jamaica, VT. The red area, the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA), has a 1% annual chance of a flood; the

More than 100 Vermont families lost their homes in Tropical Storm Irene. At least six had houses that were destroyed by the flood, but were deemed ineligible for a FEMA buy-back program because of where they appear on FEMA's maps.

Property-owner Karin Hardy had completely renovated her 150-year-old house in Jamaica, exposing the original beams, painting historic colors and building a stone bench above the quiet Ball Mountain Brook. But the brook changed on August 28, 2011. River Maps_040113_Nancy Cohen.mp3