Struggling in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene, Vermont “would be absolutely lost without” the response of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), according to the state’s Democratic governor.
Last weekend’s storm brought such severe flooding to the Green Mountain State as to require food and water be airlifted to thousands of residents stranded after floodwaters washed out roads and bridges.
“The devastation is extraordinary. I can tell you stories, but basically we have whole towns that have seen their houses and community buildings washed into streams,” Gov. Peter Shumlin says, speaking on the public radio program The Takeaway. “I flew over and visited a community yesterday where you literally see the caskets of cemeteries washed into the streams, cemeteries that had been there for hundreds of years. So there’s no question this was the worst storm in Vermont’s history.”
Grappling with such devastation, Shumlin criticized the assertion made by Texas Rep. Ron Paul that FEMA is unnecessary. Paul is seeking the 2012 Republican nomination for president.
“I would urge Ron Paul and any critics of FEMA to come to Vermont because they’ve got their team on the ground,” the governor says, according to a transcript provided to The Democratic Daily. “[FEMA Director] Craig [Fugate] himself was up here earlier in the week. And they have just an A team, that we would be absolutely lost without right now. So I would just ask to look in the eyes of Vermonters who’ve lost their homes, who’ve lost their businesses, who’ve seen their husbands and children killed by the storm and see the kind of response that FEMA is giving us. And then go back to Washington and see if they can come to the same conclusions.”
Other East Coast governors whose states were hit by Irene also agree FEMA is working, including Republican Gov. Chris Christie, Shumlin says.
“Everyone agrees that FEMA’s doing their job. They just need Congress to stop bickering and keep it funded,” he says.
Scott Nance is the editor and publisher of the news site The Washington Current. He has covered Congress and the federal government for more than a decade.