Press Release

Welch Takes to Senate Floor to Demand More Flood Recovery Funds for Vermont 

Jun 18, 2024

WASHINGTON, D.C. Senator Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Rural Development and Energy, took to the Senate Floor Monday evening 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. A shocking new report released by the Joint Economic Committee last week found that flooding damage costs between $180-$496 billion in losses each year. 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. 

“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. 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 undercount; 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.” 

Watch the Senator’s full remarks below

Read a transcript of his remarks here

Senator Welch has visited and met with municipal, state, and federal leaders across Vermont in the aftermath of the damaging floods in Vermont last summer to survey the impacts firsthand. Last Friday, he toured a U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)-funded floodplain restoration project along the Whetstone Brook in Brattleboro, which is expected to help mitigate future flooding in downtown Brattleboro. 

Last week, Senator Welch shared a new report released by the U.S. Senate Joint Economic Committee’s Democratic staff 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.