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Top White House Advisor Tours Areas Damaged by Tropical Storm Irene
By Joe Gullo
RUTLAND, Vt. - Climate change was front and center in Vermont on Thursday, as a top White House advisor toured areas damaged following Tropical Storm Irene.
FOX 44 and ABC 22 Meteorologist Michael Page rode along Route 4 with Governor Peter Shumlin and other state leaders.
The White House's top environmental advisor Michael Boots heard about everything from the home buyout process to continued rebuilding 2.5 years after the storm.
Boots was sent to Vermont by President Barack Obama. The goal is to learn how Vermont is rebuilding stronger and smarter after the storm and then apply that knowledge to other areas across the nation.
Boots saw homes and businesses still awaiting FEMA buyouts, a process state leaders say is still slower and more complicated than most residents want to see.
Vermont officials, including the governor and cabinet members from the agencies of transportation and natural resources, also focused on the need for the feds to stop thinking about past history when rebuilding.
"When a culvert washes out, FEMA traditionally will pay for you to rebuild it the way it was before. We know that's not good enough. We've got to rebuild for the next storm," Vermont Agency of Natural Resources Secretary Deb Markowitz said.
Vermont leaders and Boots all agreed that those storms are getting more intense, and costly due in part to climate change.