Rebuilding After Irene

By Kristen Tripodi

Published 04/08 2014 06:44PM

Updated 04/08 2014 06:48PM

NORTHFIELD, Vt. -  Almost three years after tropical storm Irene hit Vermont towns across the state are still rebuilding.

The sound of water brings John Lepore back to the summer of 2011.

“It was within minutes, within 15 minutes the water rose” said John Lepore, who lives in Northfield.

The rising waters were a result of tropical storm Irene.

“The water went right up to about here; in the road you'd be underwater,” said Lepore.

Lepore's neighborhood in Northfield Vermont is just one of many across the state damaged by Irene. Three years after the storm the town is still in the process of purchasing and tearing down 13 homes as a part of a buyout program.

“I miss the neighbors, I don’t miss the destruction,” said Lepore.

The neighborhood on the Dog River is now left with seven empty lots in a row. And the community wants to build a park in its place.
That's where the Vermont Downtown Action Team or V-DAT steps in.

“We are here to listen, learn, and take our expertise both here in Vermont and across the country and give that back to the community,” said Tripp Muldrow, V-DAT Team Coordinator.

Vermont hired a team of national experts thanks to federal funds. The goal is to help communities throughout the state bounce back after Irene.

“We are looking at economic development opportunities, there are some great businesses here, they are doing well, they are looking to expand so how do we begin to support them,” said Muldrow.

After receiving feedback from the community the team gets to work creating a plan for the future park and finding grant money to make it possible. Lepore says the park is a welcome change to replace the devastation left behind.

“It’s exciting to see something good come out of something so horrific to so many people,” said Lepore.

The V-DAT team will hold a public meeting Wednesday at 5:30pm in the community room of the library. It’s a chance for the community to hear about V-DAT’s plans.

Once that's done it’s up to the planning commission and the community to pick one that fits their needs.

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