WATERBURY, Vt. (AP) -- Temporary offices and abandoned buildings mark the damage done by Tropical Storm Irene nearly a year and a half after it devastated Vermont, but repaired and newly built homes, a new bridge and other signs of recovery dot the state.
In Waterbury, where parts of town were under 4 feet or more of water after the August 2011 storm, the community celebrated the closing of Rebuild Waterbury, its long-term recovery office, with a dinner Saturday.
In Waterbury, some homes were filled with water to the top of the first floor. In the area served by Rebuild Waterbury, which also included sections of Moretown and Duxbury, 446 damage claims were filed.
In southern Vermont, a new covered bridge across the Williams River in Bartonsville had its grand opening Saturday, replacing a historic covered bridge that was destroyed in the storm. In Berlin, construction has begun on a $28.5 million replacement for the state hospital that's part of a $43 million project to restructure the state's mental health system.
"We really have come an amazing distance since the storm and that's evidenced by the fact that Rebuild Waterbury has finished up its work, but there remain hundreds of Vermont families and individuals who have unmet needs," said Vermont's new Irene Recovery Officer, Dave Rapaport, referring to residential damage.
Irene's late summer passage through Vermont, dumping more than 7 inches of rain on some parts of the Green Mountains, was the biggest natural disaster to hit the state since a 1927 flood. Nine long-term recovery offices were set up across the state to focus on rebuilding after the storm.