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44 posts categorized "Tropical Storm Irene" Feed

September 23, 2011

Rep. Welch Joins GOP, Approves Disaster Aid Spending Bill (VIDEO)

Welch U.S. Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) bucked his caucus early Friday morning and joined the GOP majority to approve additional funding for the Federal Emergency Management Agency and partially pay for it by making cuts in government loan programs designed to support fuel efficiency and investments in renewable energy.

Welch, a chief deputy whip in the Democratic caucus, was one of six Democrats to join with 213 Republicans in approving the measure. A similar measure failed to pass the House on Wednesday, largely because Democrats opposed linking the disaster relief to budget cuts and Tea Party Republicans who thought there weren't enough budget cuts to offset the disaster relief spending.

Welch's vote came despite his visceral disapproval to linking spending cuts to disaster relief.

Welch railed his GOP colleagues Wednesday (see video below) for forcing budget cuts in order to pay for disaster relief, something he said has never been done before. Despite his objections, however, Welch told Seven Days in a phone interview he voted in favor of the measure both Wednesday and early Friday for a simple reason: He felt it was his obligation as Vermont's lone voice in the U.S. House to support getting money to the flood-damaged state as quickly as possible.

Continue reading "Rep. Welch Joins GOP, Approves Disaster Aid Spending Bill (VIDEO)" »

September 21, 2011

Eat, Drink & Help a Farmer

Hurrican_flats_2One in 10 Vermont farms lost their summer and fall crops in the deluge of Tropical Storm Irene, but the watertight farm-to-fork connections here mean that plenty of chefs are rallying to their side — with dinners, auctions and other creative endeavors. Next time you go out, why not make it count? Here's an assortment of upcoming benefits and relief efforts around the state.

Ongoing, through Friday, September 23: Proceeds from food sold at The Skinny Pancake's new Airstream trailer — parked on the UVM campus — go to the Intervale Center Farmers Recovery Fund. 

• Friday, September 23, 7 p.m.: At Stowe's Oktoberfest this weekend, all proceeds from the opening gala at the Jackson Arena — aptly named Roktoberfest — benefit flood-relief efforts around Waterbury, including damaged food businesses there. Music from 7 lbs. of Pork is free, but the wursts, beer and wine aren't — each cha-ching means money for flood victims.

Continue reading "Eat, Drink & Help a Farmer" »

September 15, 2011

Goodnight, Irene: GPN Announce Flood Relief Benefit

Noise1-1_GracePotterAmid the wave of post-Irene benefit shows popping up at venues all over the state in recent weeks, Grace Potter & the Nocturnals have been curiously quiet. A few rumors have made the rounds concerning an impending GPN benny, but until today, nothing had officially been announced.

Well, this just in: Grace and her merry band of Nocturnals will rock the Flynn MainStage in Burlington on Sunday, October 9, with a benefit they've dubbed "Goodnight Irene." There will also be a silent auction that evening at the BCA Center. Tickets go on sale Tuesday, September 20, at 10 a.m. And if recent ticket-related events are any indication, that means the queue for tix should start forming outside the Flynn box office on Main Street at roughly 9 a.m. on Monday, Septermber 19.

Anyway, here's the official release:

"On Sunday, October 9, during Columbus Day weekend, Vermont-based Grace Potter & the Nocturnals will return to Burlington, where in mid-August they drew 7000 people to their inaugural outdoor festival, Grand Point North, on the banks of Lake Champlain. But this time they’re driven by a far more serious purpose. They’ve put their heads — and hearts — together and organized a concert to raise money to go directly to Vermont businesses, farms and families devastated by flooding in the wake of Hurricane Irene. GPN will headline a benefit at the historic Flynn [Center for the Performing Arts], marking their first-ever performance at the venue, supported by special guests to be announced. 

"Their goal for this special event, which they’ve dubbed 'Goodnight Irene: Flood Relief Benefit,' is $100,000, and they’re hoping to exceed that amount, aided by the traditional lure of Vermont’s breathtaking natural beauty. The show will take place just as the state’s foliage explodes into brilliant autumnal colors, thus doubling the appeal of a glorious fall weekend in this picturesque town of 40,000… 

Continue reading "Goodnight, Irene: GPN Announce Flood Relief Benefit" »

Tales From a Reluctant Phishhead

20110914203639 You know what, dudes? It's pretty wild that my 914th Phish show just happened to fall on September 14. Crazy, right? And practically in in my back yard, no less!

OK, I'm lying. The band's flood-relief benefit extravaganza at the Champlain Valley Expo in Essex last night was, in fact, my first time. I know, I know. Having grown up in Vermont during the supposed peak of the band's powers, it's kind of amazing that I never chanced in to a show at some point along the way. What can I say? I've never been much of a fan. And as an aside, most other VT stereotypes have never really fit me, either. I don't ski or snowboard, I don't smoke weed, I've never owned a Subaru and I prefer Gifford's to Ben & Jerry's. But I digress.

As the music editor for Seven Days, I've gone on record on numerous occasions as someone who doesn't care for the the band's music. I've taken generally good humored shots at them in my column. I once begged them to turn the entire city of Burlington into a gigantic festival because we needed the cash influx. In fact, declaring my distaste for seaphood was the first line ("I don't like Phish") of one of my first 7D CD reviews, Page McConnell's 2007 self-titled solo album. And that was before I was even a full-time staffer here at Vermont's Independent Voice. So, yes, Phish and I have a bit of a checkered past. And so it was with some trepidation that I went to last night's festivities.

Well, guess what? It was a lot of fun.

Continue reading "Tales From a Reluctant Phishhead" »

Proselytizing Evangelicals Back at It in Flood-Damaged Towns

250LMflood In June, we brought you the story of Roz Payne, who sought assistance from 2-1-1 for her flooded North Hero camp and instead was met with a Southern Baptist prayer circle. The "help" came in the form of a minister and his wife, members of the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief of New England, who, rather than helping salvage Payne's belongings that were worth saving, suggested they pray.

As Payne told reporter Andy Bromage, “I do not think holding hands in a circle in the name of Jesus helped to save the contents of my house.”

Payne complained to everyone from Sen. Bernie Sanders to the Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, an umbrella group for organizations that assist in crises. VOAD contacted the Southern Baptists and asked them to tone down the "spiritual triage," as church members called their actions. 

Now, in the wake of Tropical Storm Irene, there are reports of similar spiritual meddling. Rev. Emily C. Heath, pastor of Wilmington and West Dover Congregational churches, says she has witnessed untrained chaplains masquerading as Red Cross volunteers in her community. 

Last week, as Heath helped organize relief efforts in Wilmington, one of the towns hardest hit by flooding, she noticed people wandering around town wearing T-shirts that said "Chaplain." Some of them were wearing badges from the International Fellowship of Chaplains, which has ties to the Assemblies of God, a Pentecostal denomination, and has been accused of fundamentalist extremism and anti-gay rhetoric.  

Continue reading "Proselytizing Evangelicals Back at It in Flood-Damaged Towns" »

September 12, 2011

Here For Phish? How About You Lend a Phreaking Hand?

IMG_6183 Last Tuesday, Vermont's phavorite jam band, Phish, announced that they would play a special benefit concert for victims of Tropical Storm Irene. Unsurprisingly, the quartet's announcement created tremors of excitement around Vermont and across the whole of Phish phandom. No sooner had word gotten out about the phoursome's show then dedicated Phish phollowers the country over grabbed some hula hoops, a couple djembe drums, a few pallets of Cheetos and their best water bongs, hopped in their vanagons and hightailed it to Vermont. 

They came phrom all over — New Jersey, Connecticut, New Jersey, Colorado, New Jersey — in the hope of nabbing one of the hottest tickets in town. The devoted called in sick to work so they could camp out on the sidewalk, despite the fact that the FlynnCenter box office asked them not to queue until Saturday when the tickets went on sale. When the box office opened at 10 a.m., the weary waiters rubbed the weed smoke phrom their eyes, threw off their drug rugs and stepped up to take their place in history — the show, after all, will be Phish's phirst in its home state since 2004's epic concert in Coventry, a big, sloppy mess if ever there was one.

By late Saturday, the show's 10,000 tickets were sold out. All the die-hards walked away from the box office with a $75 ticket in hand (all the proceeds go to the band's Waterwheel Foundation and the Vermont Community Foundation, which will dole out the money to appropriate phlood relief efforts). But here's what I want to know — what are all the out-of-state phans doing until Wednesday's show at the Champlain Valley Exposition, besides making daisy chains, crafting hemp dog leashes, swapping bootlegs and hosting sing-alongs in City Hall Park? Here's what they should be doing — volunteering.

Continue reading "Here For Phish? How About You Lend a Phreaking Hand?" »

A Portrait of Irene: The Back Behind

10-backbehind On the night of Saturday, August 27, Gerry and Conrad Zendzian made the decision to open the Back Behind Restaurant & Barbecue Smokehouse as usual the following day. "Look, it's no problem. They've downgraded it to a Tropical Storm," Gerry recalls telling employees.

Heeding warnings of high winds, the Zendzians drove two of their three cars down from their home at the top of Killington to the restaurant at the junctions of Routes 4 and 100 to protect them from potential downed trees at home. As they drove back and forth several times on the morning of the 28th, the couple noticed that the roads were eerily quiet. They decided that, since tourists seemed to be staying away from Killington, they wouldn't open for lunch or dinner that night.

Good choice. Had the owners tried to open the Back Behind that evening, it's unlikely Gerry would be alive to tell her tale.

Continue reading "A Portrait of Irene: The Back Behind" »

September 11, 2011

9/11 Anniversary: Rarely Used Emergency Gear Proves Crucial in Flood Response

Colchester Trailer The search-and-rescue trailer housed at Colchester Technical Rescue hasn't seen much action since it was purchased with federal homeland security dollars two years ago. Most days, it sits parked in a three-bay garage at the town ambulance service, packed with gear, waiting for a crisis.

Two weeks ago, the crisis arrived in the form of Tropical Storm Irene. The equipment trailer (pictured here traversing ravaged Route 4 in Mendon), and the highly-trained rescuers that travel with it, were deployed to help Vermont's devastated small towns.

Federal homeland security spending skyrocketed after the terror attacks of September 11, 2001 and it's been a contentious topic ever since — particularly in rural states such as Vermont thought to be at low risk of a terrorist attack. Vermont has received more than $95 million in federal homeland security funds since 2001, according to state figures.

Over the years, critics have complained that the expensive equipment purchased with this money is virtually unused. But some Vermont emergency first responders say it played a crucial role in the response to Tropical Storm Irene.

Continue reading "9/11 Anniversary: Rarely Used Emergency Gear Proves Crucial in Flood Response" »

September 09, 2011

BTV Lawyer Helps Flood Victims and Proves Not All Lawyers Are Jerks

Geoffrey-hand Like a lot of Vermonters in the past couple weeks, Geoff Hand had been moved by the images he'd seen and the stories he'd heard about the flooding caused by Tropical Storm Irene. So moved, in fact, that he wanted to get off the couch and do something. So Hand, a partner with the Burlington law firm Dunkiel Saunders, fished around for a project.

"The scale of it really hit me," he says. "I was trying to think of places where needs weren't being met."

What he came up with was helping people fill out FEMA paperwork. He reasoned correctly that many people didn't have Internet access even before the flood, or weren't web-savvy, making the online paperwork a bear to file. He also figured the wait to file for FEMA assistance over the phone would be long and not the best use of time for people who had just lost their homes.  

So, loaded up with four laptops from the office, a printer, a wireless card, envelopes, some pads of paper and pens, a table and some chairs, Hand hit the road and set up his own mobile FEMA assistance unit out of his old Subaru station wagon. Over the Labor Day weekend, Hand decamped to Waterbury, Duxbury and Moretown to help people get registered. As a result of his efforts, and those of his colleague, Rebecca Boucher, who went door-to-door to tell people about Hand's service, more than 30 families filed FEMA paperwork, hassle free.

Continue reading "BTV Lawyer Helps Flood Victims and Proves Not All Lawyers Are Jerks " »

They Lost Their Cars to the Floods — But in Doing So, Saved Crucial Computer Servers

Waterbury office complex As flood waters from Tropical Storm Irene swamped the Waterbury state office complex, seven employees from the Vermont Agency of Human Services rushed inside to rescue computer servers that are critical for processing welfare checks and keeping track of paroled prisoners living around the state.

Two AHS employees —network administrator Andrew Matt and deputy chief information officer Darin Prail — parked their cars behind the AHS building at around 6 p.m. that Sunday, August 28, and rushed in to save the equipment. When they came back outside, giant trees were floating by and the entire parking lot was under water. So were their cars.

"We didn't know how much time we had," Matt said, "and our job was to save the servers."

Continue reading "They Lost Their Cars to the Floods — But in Doing So, Saved Crucial Computer Servers" »

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