After the Flood: Vermont’s Rivers and the Legacy of Irene


By Monday, August 29th, 2011, YouTube clips and radio reports made clear to all the epic extent of Vermont’s flood damage caused by Tropical Storm Irene.  Over the ensuing months, heroic and compassionate Vermonters pitched in to rebuild our state and help those in need.  Roads reopened, riverbanks were stabilized, and collectively, Vermonters felt their lives begin to normalize.  However, with this release from crisis mode came opportunity to reflect on actions taken in the name of disaster relief.  We have come to learn the tremendous coordination hurdles faced by state agencies, ramifications of past infrastructure choices, and well-intentioned, but potentially detrimental, efforts aimed at “normalizing” rivers to pre-storm conditions.  We, as Vermonters, must heed the lessons of Irene ere we risk compounding this year’s tragedy.

This film travels the state of Vermont to explore both success stories and potential problem areas regarding river management in the context of this historic flooding.  The film begins by explaining how rivers work and stresses the importance of floodplains and wetlands in flood control.  Viewers will be introduced to Vermont’s River Management Program, and learn about the dangers associated with floodplain development.  The video explores the critical need for properly sized culverts in flood control efforts and highlights consequences of river modification efforts upon wildlife and humans alike.

Preparing for floods in a time of global climate change is an economic, environmental, and cultural imperative.  An informed citizenry is critical if Vermonters want to make wise decisions going forward. We believe that our video can play a part in that educational process.  Through numerous public screening events, and a display at the Vermont Folklife Center in Middlebury, this film has helped introduce important river dynamic and flood resiliency concepts to hundreds of Vermonters.

Funded in part through a Vermont Fish and Wildlife Watershed Grant, and a CVPS Community Giving Grant.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *