BURLINGTON, VT. – Senators Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Peter Welch (D-Vt.), and Congresswoman Becca Balint (VT-AL) today sent a letter to President Joe Biden urging him to work closely with Congress to secure supplemental disaster aid for urgent flood recovery and long-term disaster mitigation in Vermont. This letter comes as Congress must act to provide additional federal funding for agencies that respond to disasters and follows Sanders and Welch’s letter to Senate colleagues to approve such additional aid for the state.
In the letter, Sanders, Welch, and Balint wrote: “As Vermont continues to respond to, and begins the recovery from, ongoing catastrophic flooding, we urge you to request ample funding from Congress for a disaster supplemental appropriations bill that meets the needs of our state, with a significant focus on funding for long-term disaster response and mitigation work. We ask you to work closely with Congress to move this funding bill expeditiously, so important federal resources for disaster response and recovery become available to states like Vermont as quickly as possible.”
From the damage done to homes, businesses, farms, drinking water systems, wastewater infrastructure, roads, bridges, and dams, to the more than 4,000 individuals and families impacted by the disaster, the letter also outlined the terrible impact the floods have had on Vermonters across the state. To date, damage is still being reported and state and federal partners are working diligently to conduct damage assessments and loss estimates. This work will help individuals, small businesses, and non-profits begin to rebuild, as well as ensure the state of Vermont can make investments in recovery efforts that will make its infrastructure more resilient to future disasters. The delegation continues to work closely with the Scott Administration on these efforts, and is grateful to all the federal, state, and municipal employees who have been a part of this effort, as well as countless volunteers.
In addition to Vermont’s immediate recovery needs, the Congressional Delegation urged President Biden to support investments in mitigation activities to build long-term resiliency against future disasters and the increasingly dangerous effects of climate change.
“Vermont experienced severe flash floods beginning on July 7 that have continued to this day,” continued Sanders, Welch, and Balint. “The immediate impacts were nothing short of catastrophic, requiring over 200 water rescues, nearly 90 road closures along major routes, and damage to over 200 miles of rail in the state-owned rail system. We greatly appreciate your support in moving quickly to approve the Major Disaster Declaration and to get Vermont the initial funding needed for immediate response, without which we believe the state would have experienced significantly more destruction. Unfortunately, the long-term impacts of the disaster are proving to be just as catastrophic…While the damage assessments and needs are ongoing, we appreciate any support you may offer for the authorization and appropriation of all additional federal disaster recovery and mitigation dollars that Vermont will need for years to come.”
According to reports, the White House is expected to formally announce their funding request for domestic disaster relief in the coming days.
Read the full letter, here.