On Irene Anniversary: Lakekeeper Looks for Lessons Learned

Anthony Iarrapino

Next week, Vermonters will mark an anniversary many of us would rather forget.  It is hard to believe that a year has passed since the deluge of Tropical Storm Irene caused destructive flooding in much of the state.  Federal, state, and charitable organizations are still working to help the storms victims recover (the Vermont Irene Fund is one of the many ways you can help).  Yet as the process of recovery continues, it is important to take stock of the lessons we should learn from this disaster, and our response to it, because the overwhelming scientific evidence suggests that climate change may bring more such extreme weather to our state and region.

At CLF, Lake Champlain Lakekeeper Louis Porter, has led the effort to learn the hard lessons taught by Irene’s hard rain.

The gist of his message this week has been that science and experience teaches us that we reduce damage to the built and natural environment when we work with nature rather than against it.

Here are a few of the things he’s had to say this week with links to the major media outlets who have turned to him for analysis on this fateful anniversary:

  • From his Vermont Public Radio commentary: “Especially after Irene, we know that the key to flood protection lies in giving rivers room to move, keeping flood plains intact and building roads and bridges that are ready for our new climate.”
  • From Paul Heintz’s story “Water Ways” in Seven Days: “We are in for a lot more wet and violent weather,” he says. “We need to realize we’re going to need all of that flood capacity, all of that natural resilience in the years to come.”
  • From Suzie Steimel’s report “Did Recovery Efforts Hurt Vt’s Rivers” on WCAX TV: “It was a systemic breakdown from the people doing the work to the folks overseeing it to the state oversight which should have been in place”

As the recovery continues, Louis and others at CLF will work with Vermont officials to ensure that we have the policies and the resources in place to prevent natural disasters from being magnified by man-made disasters caused when recovery work goes wrong.

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