Hurricane Irene: Relief Efforts Continue for Victims as Floods Expand

Victims of last weekend’s hurricane continue to struggle after electricity was cut off to more than 4 million people, and more than 2 million people were forced to evacuate. Irene caused extensive flooding, and damaged residencies, infrastructure, businesses, and more.

Following Irene, Vermont is dealing with the worst flooding the state has seen in a century. Up to 250 roads and 30 bridges have been closed all due to the floodwaters, and according to Vermont authorities, thirteen communities in the state are unreachable by vehicle.

The National Guard airlifted ready-to-eat food and water to thousands of stranded Vermont communities on Tuesday and emergency items will continue to be delivered to unreachable communities on Wednesday.

Mike Bosma, a spokesperson for Vermont’s Office of Emergency Management said, “I think it’s probably a very scary thing to not know when you can get out of town and to have a water system that’s not working and a general store that has run out of bottled water.”

Bosma added, "People are extremely nervous about being isolated."

Meanwhile, up to 3 million residents continue to live without electricity along the East Coast and New Jersey is continuing evacuations due to new flooding caused by a rising Passaic River.

The Passaic River has crested at 14.2 feet and has sent water into scores of homes in Paterson, the third largest city in New Jersey.

New Jersey Governor, Chris Christie described the sites along the river as in “extraordinary despair.”

The wrath of Irene has claimed over 40 lives along the U.S. East Coast and Canada and it is now being projected that Irene will be one of the 10 costliest catastrophes in U.S. history.

Furthermore, anxious residents and business owners that have been victims of hurricane damage, remain concerned amid reports that much of the damage caused by Irene will not be covered by insurance policies due to fact that most damage was caused by flooding, not by winds.

In addition, due to the state of economic peril in the U.S., home and small business owners will likely have a difficult time rebuilding and repairing homes or businesses on their own or taking out loans to fix flood related damage. Local governments will also face a challenge in paying to fix flood damage due to a pervasive lack of funds.

The estimated cost of the hurricane is currently estimated to be around $7 billion and economists argue that the damage may take generations to pay off.