Vermont's 'Irene Recovery Officer' Reflects on Hurricane Harvey's Destruction

BURLINGTON, Vt. - The path to recovery continues, as the devastating storm once known as Hurricane Harvey, made landfall for a second time Wednesday over Texas and Louisiana. The storm has left multiple cities underwater and more than 20 people dead.

It was not that long ago, several Vermont communities were under water after Tropical Storm Irene wreaked havoc across the state in 2011.

"I remember being up all night listening to the reports from the 'road heroes' I called them... Talking about losing roads, in the end we lost 500 miles,” said Sue Minter, Irene Recovery Officer.

Minter was the Deputy Secretary of the Agency of Transportation when Irene hit, she says the state's first priority was people's health and safety, by establishing emergency access to cut-off communities.

Minter said, "Then it was about getting the power on and that is what was so important about our success in Vermont is that we were able to work together amongst agencies that don't typically work together."

Minter also served on President Obama's 'Climate Preparedness Task Force', which she co-chaired with Houston's former mayor, Annise parker.

"We talked about disaster preparedness and how much they needed to do more... The fourth largest city of this country now under water it is unimaginable to us now,” explained Minter.

On Wednesday, officials in Texas say the primary mission is continued rescue operations.

"We're still in life saving, life sustaining mode. Not only are we performing, through our partners at the coast guard, we're performing those life safety measures. But the life sustainment mission is huge. It's going to grow,” said Brock Long, FEMA administrator.

Minter fears the true destruction won't be known until the flood waters recede.

"What we don't know is what we don't know and I remember that is what kept us all up night and day... Our focus was how do we build back stronger, particularly in light of our changing climate and I hope the people in Houston will understand that, that it is their mission as well,” explained Minter.

Minter encourages everyone to stand with Texas as the road to recovery will be long, she says monetary donations are the most beneficial at this time.
 


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