Press Release

On the One-Year Anniversary of Vermont Floods, Welch Stresses Urgent Need to Pass Supplemental Disaster Aid

Jul 11, 2024

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On the one-year anniversary of the Vermont floods, Senator Peter Welch (D-Vt.) took to the Senate Floor to call for increased supplemental disaster funding for Vermont communities impacted by catastrophic flooding. Sen. Welch highlighted legislation to help communities impacted by natural disasters, including his recently introduced Rural Recovery Act, which provides communities with funding for emergency recovery technical assistance after a presidentially-declared disaster. Senator Welch’s remarks came as areas across Vermont received more torrential rain and flooding as the remnants of Hurricane Beryl hit the state.   

“One year ago, this very week, rain started to fall in Vermont and for days on end and it did not stop. The rain turned into catastrophic flooding. We had our entire typical annual rainfall in just days,” said Senator Welch. “Since the flood, I’ve revisited many of the communities that were hit hard last July, and in every community, I’ve seen strength and resilience—and it gives me confidence that we will come back stronger than before. 

“Mr. President, this takes a toll on folks. You know if it’s your farm, if it’s your home, if it’s your business, if it’s a town where you’re the select board and it’s your bridge—that is tough, and it goes on. I have come to the Senate Floor many times to talk about how critical the resources are that the appropriations process have provided. But we need flexible funding dollars to actually finish the job and get past the red tape that’s holding things up,” continued Senator Welch. “And Vermont does need substantial disaster relief money to help lower- and moderate-income communities fill in the gaps of insurance and state assistance…I keep hearing from the hardworking Vermonters and local leaders who would directly benefit from the disaster relief program. 

“After the flood, I introduced new legislation that will help rural communities in Vermont and across America hit by floods and other natural disasters. For instance: the Rural Recovery Act…the WEATHER Act…and the BUFFER Act,”said Senator Welch.So, I’ll continue in Vermont partnering with our governor, Governor Scott—who’s been on this case from day one—and my Vermont colleagues in the Congressional Delegation—Senator Sanders, the senior senator from Vermont, and Congresswoman Balint—as well as the Biden Administration and our local leaders to help Vermont recover from the flood more resiliently, preparing for the future, and recognizing the reality that these huge weather events are here to stay.” 

Watch the Senator’s full remarks below

Read a transcript of his remarks here. On Wednesday, Senator Welch convened a Senate Agriculture Subcommittee on Rural Development hearing on how Congress can bolster emergency response, recovery, and resilience in America’s rural communities. The hearing included witnesses from Vermont who discussed Vermont’s recovery process and how Washington can better help rural communities access technical assistance before and after natural disasters.  

Senator Welch has visited and met with municipal, state, and federal leaders across Vermont in the aftermath of the damaging floods in Vermont to survey the impacts firsthand and to help Vermonters recover and build back stronger. Senator Welch has urged his colleagues to pass disaster supplemental funding for Vermont’s flood-impacted homeowners, farmers, and businesses.   

Last month, Senator Welch shared a new report released by the U.S. Senate Joint Economic Committee’s Democratic majority that found flooding damage costs an equivalent of 1-2% of U.S. GDP, or $180-$496 billion, each year. The analysis found that the ongoing impacts of climate change were likely to increase costs in the future. Another recent analysis found that every $1 spent on flood resiliency efforts saves up to $318 in flood-related damages.