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Since Tropical Storm Irene devastated Vermont five years ago, the High Meadows Fund has been connecting with key community partners to assess lessons we have learned and to compile accessible resources. Though only a starting place, it will hopefully provide easy access to people who are reflecting on this five-year anniversary. Several organizations contributed to building this resource list and crafting this document.
Tropical Storm Irene was a momentous event in Vermont's history, and the response to Irene showed our remarkable identity as a people and as neighbors who care for each other. In the time since Irene, our state has confronted the new reality of more frequent and intense storms. We have been working together as a state and as communities to be better prepared and more resilient together. However, we have more to do.
Vermont has unique challenges because of its topography and development choices. We live in the valleys along the rivers, and in rural, forested areas along dirt roads. This settlement pattern means it is critical to consider our upstream and downstream neighbors when we make decisions about how to interact with our rivers and other waterways and with our watersheds.
In responding after Irene devastated dozens of communities, neighbors united and worked as allies. As a result, communities made faster progress in recovery and rebuilding. We need to apply that spirit of community and social capital to identifying our risks and reducing our vulnerability to future storms. Tropical Storm Irene taught the state of Vermont several lessons. We still have more to achieve to act on those lessons.