Congressional Delegation, FEMA Officials Tour Flood-Ravaged Barre | News | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Congressional Delegation, FEMA Officials Tour Flood-Ravaged Barre

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Published July 12, 2023 at 5:32 p.m.
Updated July 26, 2023 at 2:09 p.m.


Second Street in Barre City - COURTNEY LAMDIN ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Courtney Lamdin ©️ Seven Days
  • Second Street in Barre City
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) quickly realized he’d worn the wrong footwear on Wednesday to visit a Barre City neighborhood ravaged by floodwaters.

“These are my Washington shoes,” Sanders said, glancing down at his leather-clad feet.

But that didn’t stop Vermont’s senior senator from trudging through the mud on Second Street, where he joined his colleagues Sen. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) and Rep. Becca Balint (D-Vt.) along with Gov. Phil Scott and FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell to tour the wreckage from this week’s storm.



Barre was pelted with nearly eight inches of rain on Monday, causing the Stevens Branch to jump its banks and spill into low-lying neighborhoods. Residents of the dozen-plus homes on Second Street, several of them rentals, were still pumping out basements and using heavy machinery to move piles of foul-smelling muck from the road.
A.J. Walker speaking to officials - COURTNEY LAMDIN ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Courtney Lamdin ©️ Seven Days
  • A.J. Walker speaking to officials
“We went through Irene, and for us, it wasn’t very impactful. But this one definitely was,” said A.J. Walker, who has lived on Second Street for 15 years. “It was real sudden. We weren’t really prepared as we should have been.”

Kyle Green, who lives on nearby Brook Street, helped Walker clean up.

“Whatever he needs, he gets,” Green said. “I’m just trying to help all my neighbors. We’re not all rich, you know. A little shovel, a water pump, goes a long way.”

Down the street, landlord Tim Jarvis was checking the damage to his three apartment buildings. He brightened when he saw Barre Mayor Jake Hemmerick approach and gave kudos to city workers who have been clearing streets nonstop.
Sen. Bernie Sanders comforting a Barre City resident - COURTNEY LAMDIN ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Courtney Lamdin ©️ Seven Days
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders comforting a Barre City resident
Jarvis said he’s waiting to see what kind of help FEMA can provide, particularly to his tenants who lost belongings in the flood. Some have stayed at the Red Cross shelter at the Barre Municipal Auditorium, others with friends and family.

“It’s going to be a long struggle to get them back [in their homes],” he said.

The officials also spoke with renters, including one woman who told Scott that she lost her vehicle and woodworking equipment in the flood. Scott, who grew up in Barre, said his hometown was one of the hardest hit.

“All these folks were struggling before the storm, and this put more burden on them,” he said.

The governor said having FEMA officials on the ground could improve Vermont’s chances of getting additional disaster relief money. Earlier in the day, officials surveyed the damage from the air.

"Sending the administrator of FEMA here ... is a powerful statement,” he said. “We’ll see where we go from here.”
Barre City Mayor Jake Hemmerick (right) on Wednesday - COURTNEY LAMDIN ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Courtney Lamdin ©️ Seven Days
  • Barre City Mayor Jake Hemmerick (right) on Wednesday

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