Last week’s heavy rainfall caused widespread damage and disruption across the state, and it was a sudden and stressful event. When something like this happens it both literally and figuratively dampens our plans and risks diluting our spirit, but we can’t let it. Yes, the impacts of the rain are devastating and discouraging, they may have impacted your home, health, career, or even your summertime fun, but we are Vermonters! We are resilient, and in times of trouble, we find ways to move through the waters to drier ground, because that’s what healthy communities do!
Our homes are precious to us! They make up our neighborhoods and we know that where we lay our head plays a crucial role in our overall health and well-being. It affects various aspects of our physical, mental, and emotional health. When we have issues with our home such as flooding, leaks, or water-induced electrical issues, it’s burdensome. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA, https://www.epa.gov ) focuses on environmental factors that affect human health, including those related to our homes and they provide guidance on creating healthier homes by addressing issues like indoor air pollution and mold prevention. Massive rains can lead to damage of not only our belongings, but structural issues, and potential health hazards due to water contamination. If you had or have any of these concerns, you aren’t alone!
This has been such a concerning time that Governor Phil Scott and the President of The United States, Joseph Biden are declaring this a major disaster. “I want to express my sincere appreciation to President Biden and his team at FEMA for their incredibly quick approval of the declaration,” said Governor Scott. “Vermonters are hurting, and federal assistance will be critical as we rebuild and recover.”
According to the EPA, the declaration provides funding under the Federal Public Assistance (PA) and Individual Assistance (IA) programs that allows communities to receive reimbursement for emergency storm repairs, you can get more information at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or call 1-800-621-3362. They suggest individuals who suffered losses in the storm should take photos and document them while they continue to clean up and keep track of all repairs and expenses. You should also report that damage to Vermont 211, either by dialing 2-1-1 or by visiting vermont211.org.
If your home made it through ok or you are returning to some normalcy, you may see some sunny days ahead and want to head to the beach or get out of town. Plan ahead! This disaster had a severe impact on roads and bridges, making many areas inaccessible. It has also caused environmental effects. The Vermont Department of Health (VDH, www.healthvermont.gov) says, “Swimming in contaminated water can expose individuals to various health risks. Bacterial infections such as gastrointestinal illnesses, skin infections, and respiratory issues are common concerns. Additionally, exposure to certain chemicals or toxins present in floodwaters can have long-term health effects.” While it’s still summer, it may be a good time to think of different plans until our waters are restored.
The most positive thing you can remember about this week is that when a flood comes in, the Vermonters go out, to help! They are quick to respond and support each other! Communities rallied together and the spirit of Vermont was so bright, it was showcased on media outlets around the globe. The resilience and solidarity of our state were so evident that while the world grieved with us through the rain, they also saw a beautiful shower of community and you should too. You are part of a community! It doesn’t matter if you are underwater or in a dry spell (figuratively or literally), communities are here to support and respond in times of need. If you have questions or concerns in times like these or anytime, reach out! If you are struggling or needing emotional support, call 9-8-8. It’s very normal and sometimes even triggering to go through events like this, let your community help you through!
It’s been a wet week, there’s been a lot of damage and a lot of stress! Your health and well-being still matter just as much now in times of flood waters as it does in times of drought. Remember, we are a community, we can get through this together! We got hit with a lot of water; it may be dampening our plans, but it won’t dilute our spirits!
Director of The Wellness Center