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    Vermont’s recovery from Irene hits two-year mark

    WALLINGFORD, Vt. — Two years after Tropical Storm Irene washed 10 acres of crops and an entire field of top soil down a valley between the Vermont mountains, Evening Song Farm is distributing produce again. But it will be years before the ground is productive again.

    Kara Fitzgerald and Ryan Wood-Beauchamp now grow their crops on a hillside about a mile away. The soil there is damp and not as good as the bottom land along the river, but with careful attention, over time, it can get better.

    Like thousands of Vermonters whose lives were forever changed by Irene, the 28-year-old vegetable farmers picked themselves up with help from strangers, a small amount of government assistance and a series of loans. And work. Hard, never-ending work.


    ‘‘In some ways we feel like the storm was yesterday. Our recovery is still full-on,’’ Fitzgerald said as she took a break from picking carrots. ‘‘It was a real good opportunity to throw in the towel.’’

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    Two summers after Irene, the state is nearing the end of its official recovery. The state and federal governments have spent more than $565 million to help Vermont recover — not including private donations and money people spent on their own — but the final bill is far from tallied.

    There are hundreds of people and businesses whose recovery is still in progress and some are looking for permanent homes. Nevertheless, a series of celebrations and commemorations are planned for this week, starting on Wednesday’s anniversary.

    ‘‘It doesn’t mean there isn’t more work to do,’’ said Governor Peter Shumlin, who will visit the hard-hit community of Wilmington on Wednesday and eat chili at Dot’s, an iconic restaurant all but destroyed by the storm but now a potent symbol of the town’s resilience.

    ‘‘We’re going to make sure everybody gets the help they need and they will,’’ he said.


    Irene was the biggest natural disaster to hit Vermont since an epic 1927 flood. The storm killed six in Vermont, left thousands homeless, and damaged or destroyed more than 200 bridges and 500 miles of highway. Of the state’s 251 towns, 225 had infrastructure damage.