In The News

Welch tours lasting flood damage in Barre as residents wonder what’s next

Apr 15, 2024

BARRE, Vt. (WCAX) – Barre City residents are still dealing with major impacts nine months after last summer’s flooding. Sen. Peter Welch was in Barre on Monday to see what he can do in Washington to help.

“It hasn’t been easy and the tension of what are we going to do? Where are we going to go? We have no idea even with the buyout money where we’re going to go,” said Nancy Morin of Barre.

Morin grabbed her valuables and evacuated before floodwaters reached her home last July. She and her husband got out in time, but their home was destroyed and they are looking for a new place to live.

“We went to Florida and looked at places down there. Trailer parks, you know, where you’re on your land, but I don’t want to live there. My children, my grandchildren, they’re all here. Family, everybody’s here,” Morin said.

Vermont Sen. Peter Welch stopped by her home to survey the damage. She hopes Welch can help in Washington with the lengthy FEMA buyout process.

“The buyout, it shouldn’t take years to get it and to see what he can do to speed up the process. There are many of us who are suffering,” Morin said.

Over at Dessureau Machines on the other side of the Stevens Branch River, they are also looking for a new location.

“We were out of business for, you know, probably a month-and-a-half or so to some extent. So, we weren’t able to ship any product or anything like that,” said Mark Dessureau, the company president.

They are able to operate partially in the old location and another temporary one. They are also still waiting for the federal buyout and a small business loan application to come through.

“It’s difficult. We’re hoping better days are ahead. We can get into another location and we have a lot of opportunities potentially in front of us that if we can get back up and running, that we should be able to take advantage of, so we’re hoping that can happen sooner rather than later,” Dessureau said.

Barre City Manager Nicholas Storellicastro says there will likely be 15-20 FEMA buyouts. However, he says nothing can be built on those sites once the buyout occurs.

It’s a difficult process, one they hope Welch will be able to help with.

“What we’re really talking about from the city’s perspective with some of our mitigation efforts and how he can be helpful in Washington with FEMA to helping us not just rebuild, but rebuild smarter,” Storellicastro said.

Welch agrees there is prohibitive red tape blocking the way to flood recovery.

“There has to be some governmental support. And Barre can’t come up and pay for all this. And there has to be flexibility. So, folks who are willing to work are not going to run into constant bureaucratic barriers impeding them from helping their neighbors,” said Welch, D-Vermont.

Storellicastro says they are trying to get creative with non-FEMA buyouts which would allow them to rebuild in places that are within the flood plain but safe to build, so they can continue to address the housing crisis only made worse by the July flooding and loss of existing homes.

Story Written by Katharine Huntley, WCAX

Story Link: