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Welch Calls for more Hardwick Flood Recovery Funds

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Peter Welch, Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Rural Development and Energy, took to the Senate floor on Monday evening, June 18, to call for more supplemental disaster funding for Vermont communities impacted by flooding in July 2023, and urged his colleagues to take the economic threat of climate change seriously.

photo by Vanessa Fournier Senator Peter Welch (left) and Hardwick Town Manager David (Opie) Upson (right) discuss the catastrophic damage sustained to The Inn By The River in Hardwick after last July’s flooding.

“As I revisit communities that were hit hard by flooding, places like Barre, Johnson, Hardwick, Montpelier, Ludlow, Londonderry, it’s clear that work to recover from this flood will last for years,” said Senator Welch. “We need supplemental disaster funding, and we really do need it now. The funds need to be flexible so that our communities in Vermont, in Hawaii, in Texas, in Florida, in California and other states can use the funds as needed for their recovery to their unique needs.

Sen. Welch made his remarks less than three weeks after he visited Hardwick and toured areas of town affected by 2023 flooding. During that tour he met with town officials as they recounted their experiences working with FEMA and other federal agencies to develop flood recovery plans and arrange funding to implement them.

Senator Welch pressed for resiliency funding to mitigate the cost of climate change-related catastrophes, and discussed how instituting resilience measures early saves communities in the long-run.

Welch said, “A flood and a fire require different recovery strategies, and that should be reflected in the funding. That’s why the Community Development Block Grants for Disaster Recovery are so critical.”

“Last week, the Joint Economic Committee’s Democratic Majority released a new report on the economic cost of flooding, and the findings are really stunning: flooding will cost $180 to $496 billion each year. These costs are probably an under-count; they are only a fraction of what our communities truly endure as we recover from a flood,” said Senator Welch. “This should be an alarm bell . . . The next natural disaster, be it a flood, a fire, a tornado, or a hurricane, could happen in your state. And as we often say, ‘there but for the grace of God go I.’ I urge my colleagues to have grace for their fellow Americans and fellow colleagues who need the help now, because you never know when your state could be next.”

Paul Fixx is editor of The Hardwick Gazette and lives in Hardwick.

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