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YCQM - Neale Lunderville - Sept. 18, 2011 - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

YCQM - Neale Lunderville - Sept. 18, 2011

September 18, 2011 -- Vt. Chief Recovery Officer Neale Lunderville joins Darren Perron and Jennifer Reading to discuss Tropical Storm Irene recovery issues in Vermont.

>>> GOOD MORNING, I'M DARREN PERRON

>> OUR NEWS MAKER IS THE STATE'S NEWLY APPOINTED IRENE RECOVERY OFFICER. WE'LL TALK ABOUT TROPICAL STORM IRENE, THE IMPACT AND WHAT IS NEXT FOR THE STATE. NEALE LUNDERVILLE, THANK YOU FOR JOINING US.

>> THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.

>> LET'S BEGIN. WHAT IS THIS POSITION? IRENE RECOVERY OFFICER, WHAT DOES IT MEAN

>> WHAT IT MEANS IS WE NEED TO LOOK BEYOND THE IMMEDIATE RESPONSE, WHICH IS WHAT WE'RE DOING. WE HAVE BEEN DOING FOR ALMOST THE LAST THREE WEEKS NOW. WHICH IS ADDRESSING THE VERY BASIC NEEDS OF VERMONTERS, THE HEALTH AND SAFETY ISSUES THAT FAMILIES ARE FACING IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING THE FLOOD. THE SHELTER ISSUES, THE ROAD CLOSURES THAT WE HAVE SEEN, THE BRIDGES OUT. THESE ARE ALL THE BASICS. THAT'S PART OF THE RESPONSE TO ADDRESS THOSE IMMEDIATE NEEDS. RECEIPT COVERY IS SOMETHING THAT -- RECOVERY IS SOMETHING THAT STRETCHES LONGER. SOMETHING THAT REALLY SAYS HOW DO WE GET BACK TO WHERE WE WERE BEFORE. BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY, HOW DO WE MAKE VERMONT EVEN BETTER, EVEN STRONGER, EVEN SMARTER, AND BUILD VERMONT BACK UP EVEN BETTER TO WHERE IT WAS PRE--IRENE, AND THAT IS WHAT THIS JOB DOES, AND THE GOVERNOR ASKED ME TO HELP LEAD THAT EFFORT OVER THE NEXT FEW MONTHS AND PUT THE STATE IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION, AND ON THE RIGHT TRAJECTORY TO SUCCEED.

>> SINCE THE STORM HIT WE'VE SEEN ALMOST UNBELIEVABLE IMAGES OF JUST DESTRUCTION AND DISASTER. WHERE DO YOU START, WHAT ARE THE TOP PRIORITIES?

>> WELL, WHERE DO YOU START, THAT'S A QUESTION I GET A LOT. YOU CAN LOOK AT IT AND SEE SUCH OVERWHELMING DEVASTATION. YOU CAN SEE THE STORIES OF PEOPLE WASHED OUT OF THEIR HOMES AND COMMUNITIES, LIKE WILMINGTON, WHERE THE FLOOD WATERS CAME UP OVER 30 FEET, AND WASHED AWAY SO MANY BUSINESSES. THE REAL HEARTBEAT OF THAT COMMUNITY. SO IT'S EASY TO GET BOGGED DOWN IN ALL THAT. BUT KIND OF START WHAT HAS -- THE START HAS KEPT US GOING THE LAST THREE WEEKS, THE SPIRIT OF VERMONT. IT HAS BEEN INCREDIBLE. WE TALK ABOUT IT A LOT. YOU GUYS HAVE DONE A GREAT JOB BROADCASTING IT ON TV AND SHOWING THAT. AND THIS IS NOT CLICHE, IT IS ALIVE AND WELL AND NEARLY EVERYBODY -- I CAN SAY EVERYBODY I'VE TALKED TO, SPIRIT OF NEIGHBOR HELPING NEIGHBOR, REGARDL OF WHERE YOU ARE FROM -- REGARDLESS WHO YOU ARE, WHERE YOU ARE FROM, COMING OUT AND DOING THEIR PART TO REBUILD. SO HARNESSING THAT ENERGY, MAKING SURE THAT WE KEEP THAT ENERGY GOING FORWARD. THE FIRST PART OF MY JOB IS TO SEE ALL THE THINGS THAT WE'RE DOING ON THE RESPONSE PART. MAKE SURE THAT THERE ARE NO GAPS. THAT NOTHING IS BEING LOOKED OVER, AND ANY PLACES WHERE WE'RE HAVING A LITTLE TROUBLE, GO IN AND BE A TROUBLESHOOTER FOR THAT. MAKE SURE THAT OUR LOCAL, STATE AND FEDERAL PARTNERS ARE ALL WORKING TOGETHER VERY CLOSELY. AND THAT'S THE FIRST STEP. BEYOND THAT, WE NEED TO START LOOKING RIGHT AWAY AS WHAT DO WE DO AFTER WE GET OUT OF THE RESPONSE PHASE. ONCE WE START TO GET BACK TO A SEM BLENS OF NORMALLY, PEOPLE START TO GET BACK TO THEIR LIVES, THERE WILL BE A LOT OF REBUILDING IN COMMUNITIES THAT WERE DEVASTATED. SO WE BEGIN TO THINK ABOUT HOW DO WE HELP THESE COMMUNITIES BUILD AGAIN, HOW DO WE HELP THESE FAMILIES GET BACK TO THE PLACE THAT THEY WERE BEFORE, AND BE EVEN BETTER, AND THOSE ARE THE PIECES THAT I'M STARTING TO BLOCK OUT NOW, AND REALLY BEGIN TO LOOK AT THAT WHOLE PICTURE, WHICH IS SOMETHING THAT WILL COME TOGETHER OVER THE NEXT FEW MONTHS.

>> A LOT OF PEOPLE ARE PROBABLY SITTING AT HOME LOOKING FOR SORT OF AN ITEMIZED LIST, IF YOU WILL, WE KNOW THAT ROUTE 4 JUST REOPENED, HAPPY TO SAY THAT.

>> YEP.

>> IS THERE A WAY TO, SORT OF FOLLOWING UP ON JEN'S QUESTION, A TOP PRIORITY LIST OF ROADS OR BRIDGES THAT NEED TO BE TAKEN CARE OF FIRST.

>> THERE DEFINITELY ARE, THERE HAVE BEEN. THE LOCAL CREWS, THE AGENCY OF TRANSPORTATION CREWS, NATIONAL GUARD CREWS HAVE BEEN WORKING IN A COORDINATED EFFORT TO MAKE SURE THAT THE CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE ROADS, ROADS AND BRIDGES, ARE BROUGHT UP TO SPEED. CERTAINLY THE ROUTE 4 CORRIDOR WAS VERY IMPORTANT. WE'RE VERY HAPPY THAT OPENED YESTERDAY. ROUTE 9, WHICH OPENED LAST WEEK WAS VERY IMPORTANT. THERE ARE A NUMBER OF OTHER ROADS. ROUTE 107, I WAS DOWN THERE THIS MORNING CONNECTING BETHEL AND STOCKBRIDGE IT IS A CRITICAL SECTION OF ROAD FOR EAST-WEST TRAVEL IN OUR STATE. WE HAVE CREWS WORKING AROUND THE CLOCK DOING DESIGNS. THEY TOLD ME THEY DO THE DESIGN THE NIGHT BEFORE AND THEY GIVE IT TO THE FOLKS IN THE FIELD AND THE VERY NEXT MORNING THEY ARE ALREADY IMPLEMENTING THAT DESIGN. SO THAT IS ONE OF OUR TOP ITEMS, IS TO MAKE SURE OUR CRITICAL TRANSPORTATION CORRIDORS ARE UP AND RUNNING FOR ALL VARIETY OF TRAVEL. WE ALSO HAVE CERTAINLY EVEN BEFORE ON TOP OF THAT, MAKE SURE THAT OUR FAMILIES ARE BEING TAKEN CARE OF, INDIVIDUALS AND FAMILIES, WHO MIGHT HAVE BEEN IMPACTED BY THIS. THAT IS WHERE OUR PARTNERS WITH FEMA HAS BEEN VERY HELPFUL. THEY COME IN, THEY HAVE A RANGE OF SERVICES, IN A DISASTER LIKE THIS TO COME IN AND BE ABLE TO HELP. OUR NETWORKS OF SERVICES, THE AMERICAN RED CROSS, VERY IMPORTANT PARTNER FOR THAT. THOSE ARE AT THE VERY TOP OF THE LIST. BEYOND THAT, CERTAINLY WE CAN'T OVERLOOK OUR LOCAL ROADS, I MEAN, IF YOU LOOK AT A MAP OF OUR LOCAL ROADS, THERE'S SO MANY LOCAL ROADS AND BRIDGES THAT ARE WASHED OUT, AND CONTINUE TO BE CLOSED. WE STILL HAVE 79 LOCAL AND TOWN BRIDGES CLOSED, OVER 200 STRETCHES OF TOWN ROADS AROUND THE STATE THAT HAVE BEEN WASHED OUT. THAT'S IN ADDITION TO A LOT OF MILES ON OUR STATE SYSTEM, WHICH WE ARE ADDRESSING. SO MAKING SURE THAT WE'RE LOOKING AT A CRITICAL TRANSPORTATION CORRIDORS, TAKING CARE OF THE TOWN STRUCTURES AS WELL, REMEMBER, WE HAVE A DROP-DEAD DATE THAT'S IMPOSED BY MOTHER NATURE. IT'S WHEN THE SNOW STARTS TO FLY, WE'RE NOT GOING TO BE ABLE TO RUN THE ASPHALT PLANTS, WE'LL HAVE A DIFFICULT TIME DOING WINTER CONSTRUCTION. SOMETIME IS OF THE ESSENCE WITH BOTH TAKING CARE OF OUR FAMILIES AND GETTING OUR CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE BACK ON TRACK.

>> WE'RE JUST STARTING TO HEAR PRELIMINARY ESTIMATES OF HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS, AND THAT'S JUST FOR THE ROADS, SO --

>> THAT'S JUST FOR THE STATE ROADS.

>> STATE ROADS, YES.

>> SO HOW ARE WE GOING TO PAY FOR ALL OF THIS? I KNOW YOU SAID IN A PRESS CONFERENCE LAST WEEK, YOU ARE GOING TO SHAKE EVERY TREE. WHAT IS THIS LOOKING LIKE FINANCIALLY?

>> WELL, IT IS GOING TO BE A VERY BIG PRICE TAG, AND EARLIER THIS WEEK, SECRETARY BRIAN STERLS. AGENCY OF TRANS TRANSPORTATION RELEASED PRELIMINARY NUMBERS ON THE STATE SYSTEM, $533 MILLION. FORTUNATELY, A LOT OF THAT GETS MATCHED BY THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT, BUT THE STATE HAS TO COME UP WITH A PART OF THAT MONEY IN THE END. AND WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO WORK ON SOLUTIONS. I WILL BE WORKING CLOSELY WITH THE ADMINISTRATION SECRETARY, JEB SPAULDING AND HIS BUDGET TEAM TO PUT TOGETHER THOSE SOLUTIONS. THAT'S JUST ON THE STATE ROAD SYSTEM. NOW, THEN WE TALK ABOUT THE TOWN ROAD SYSTEM. THAT'S ELIGIBLE FOR FEMA, WHAT THEY CALL PUBLIC ASSISTANCE. SO YOU'RE TALKING, IT'S HARD TO ESTIMATE, BUT THERE COULD BE A HUNDRED, TWO HUNDRED MILLION IN DAMAGES THERE AS WELL. BEYOND THAT, OTHER DAMAGE THAT QUALIFIES FOR PUBLIC ASSISTANCE AT THE TOWN LEVEL, AND THAT COULD BE TOWN BUILDS AND OTHER MUNICIPAL FACILITIES. WE'RE LOOKING AT THAT DAMAGE. DON'T FORGET WATERBURY, THE TOWN, I MEAN, THE STATE OFFICE COMPLEX IN WATERBURY, WE'RE TRYING TO ASSESS THAT DAMAGE NOW. WITH ALL OF THIS BEYOND THE PUBLIC ASSISTANCE, WANT TO MAKE SURE WHERE INSURANCE COVERAGE IS AVAILABLE WE'RE USING THAT INSURANCE MONEY. IN FACT, BOTH FEMA, FEDERAL HIGHWAY, FEDERAL AGENCIES, THAT MONEY IS LAST RESORT MONEY. THEY WANT TO MAKE SURE THAT INSURANCE MONEY TAKES CARE OF EVERYTHING FIRST, ANYTHING ELSE NOT TAKEN CARE OF THEY COME IN AND LOOK AT IT. SO HOW DO WE FUND IT? THAT'S GOING TO BE AN ONGOING PUZZLE. FIRST WE HAVE TO MAKE SURE WE DO OUR ESTIMATES, DO THEM WELL, GET A GOOD SENSE OF WHAT WE'RE TALKING ABOUT FOR THE OVERALL PICTURE OF DAMAGE, SEE WHAT THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT CAN HELP US WITH, SEE WHAT IS LEFT FOR OUR SHARE, ON THE PUBLIC SIDE, AND THEN WORK TO BUILD SOME CREATIVE SOLUTIONS.

>> SPEAKING OF THOSE CREATIVE SOLUTIONS, WHAT ARE SOME OF THE TREES THAT YOU ARE THEY IT -- THINKING ABOUT SHAKING HERE, WHAT ARE THE IDEAS ON THE TABLE?

>> LET'S MAKE SURE WE'RE GETTING EVERYTHING OUT OF -- FROM OUR FEDERAL PARTNERS. THEY HAVE A LOT OF PROGRAMS THAT WOULD BE APPLICABLE TO ANY KIND OF DISASTER. BUT THERE ARE ALSO A LOT OF OTHER LITTLE PROGRAMS THIS WE CAN FIND TO MAKE SURE THAT WE ARE BRINGING IN, FOR INSTANCE, HAZARD MITIGATION MONEY. SO THAT WE CAN REPAIR STUFF BETTER THAN IT WAS, MAKE SURE THAT WE'RE BUILDING BRIDGES TO A STANDARD THAT HELPS THEM BE MORE FLOOD-RESISTANT, AS A FOR INSTANCE. SO MAKING SURE THAT ON THE FEDERAL LEVEL WE'RE FUNDING -- FINDING EVERY POT OF MONEY THERE. OUR CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION HAS BEEN VERY HELPFUL. THEY WILL CONTINUE TO BE VERY HELPFUL. I MET WITH THEM, ONE OF MY FIRST MEETINGS THIS WEEK, STAFFS FROM THEIR OFFICES TALKING ABOUT HOW WE CAN WORK TOGETHER IN PARTNERSHIP WITH THEM. ON THE STATE LEVEL, CERTAINLY WE NEED TO LOOK AT THE STATE BUDGET, SEE WHAT MONEY MIGHT EXIST IN THERE. WE'VE HAD -- I CERTAINLY KNOW FROM MY LAST JOB AS ADMINISTRATION SECRETARY, HAD A COUPLE OF ROUGH YEARS, SO THERE'S NOT AS MUCH MONEY THERE AS WE HAD BEFORE, BUT MAYBE THERE'S A WAY OF MOVING SOME -- ON THE TRANSPORTATION SIDE, MOVING PROJECTS FROM YEAR TO YEAR, MOVING THEM AROUND. THERE MIGHT BE A WAY TO BRING MONEY IN IT. THERE ARE A LOT OF OTHER SOLUTIONS, WE'LL CONTINUE TO TALK ABOUT THOSE. LET'S NOT FORGET, TOO, THAT FAMILIES AND INDIVIDUALS WHO HAVE IN SOME CASES LOST EVERYTHING, THEY ARE GOING TO HAVE AN EXTRAORDINARY NEED. WE'RE GOING TO LOOK, AND WE HAVE BEEN LOOKING TO OUR FEDERAL PARTNER, FEMA, TO PROVIDE THEM THE BASIC ASSISTANCE THEY NEED TO GET BACK OFF THE GROUND. THAT ONLY FOR SOME FAMILIES HAVE LOST EVERYTHING, THAT ONLY GOES SO FAR. THOSE HAVE BEEN REALLY DIFFICULT INDICATIONS. -- DIFFICULT CASES. ALREADY VERMONTERS HAVE BEEN SO GENEROUS WITH PRIVATE DONATIONS. WE REALLY ENCOURAGE FOLKS, WE THANK FOLKS FOR ALL THAT THEY'VE DONE, ENCOURAGE THEM TO CONTINUE TO BE GENEROUS. WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO RELY ON THE GENEROSITY OF VERMONTERS AND OTHER CIVIC AND RELIGIOUS GROUPS WHO CAN COME IN AND HELP PROVIDE SOME OF THE OTHER ASSISTANCE TO FAMILIES. THERE'S A LOT OF NEED OUT THERE, AND AS WE GET CLOSE TO WINTER, THAT'S GOING TO BE ONE OF THE THINGS WE'RE LOOKING AT. THE LONG-TERM RECOVERY FOR OUR FAMILIES, MAKING SURE THEY HAVE WHAT THEY NEED, THE ASSISTANCE NOT JUST TO GET BACK ON THEIR FEET WITH THEIR JOB, BUT WITH THEIR HOME, MAKE SURE THE KIDS ARE IN SCHOOL, OR IN THE RIGHT DISTRICT, THERE'S A LOT OF PIECES TO THAT.

>> SO SOUND LIKE A LOT OF MONEY GOING OUT HERE, AND ONE OF THE QUESTIONS IS, WITH YOUR APPOINTMENT, IT IS A NEW POSITION ON THE ADMINISTRATION. HOW WILL YOU BE COMPENSATED FOR YOUR ROLE?

>> WELL, I WAS -- BEFORE I TOOK THIS ASSIGNMENT, THE GOVERNOR ASKED ME TO STEP IN AND DO THIS. I WORKED FOR GREEN MOUNTAIN POWER, I TOOK AN UNPAID LEAVE OF ABSENCE FROM GREEN MOUNTAIN POWER WHICH I'LL DO THROUGH THE END OF THE YEAR, WHICH IS WHERE MY ASSIGNMENT IS UP, AND I WILL BE PAID AS A TEMPORARY STATE EMPLOYEE DURING THAT TIME.

>> HOW MUCH?

>> IT IS ABOUT $115,000 ON AN ANNUAL BASIS, SO WHATEVER THE PRO RATA SHARE IS FOR THAT. IT IS WITHOUT BENEFITS.

>> LET'S LISTEN A LITTLE BIT EARLIER, LAST WEEK I GUESS IT WAS, THE GOVERNOR MADE THE ANNOUNCEMENT THAT YOU WOULD BECOME THE IRENE RECOVERY OFFICER. LET'S HEAR WHAT THE GOVERNOR HAD TO SAY.

>> SO NEALE, I JUST WANT TO THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART FOR TAKING THIS MISSION.

>> WORDS FROM GOVERNOR SHUMLIN THERE, AS YOU KNOW, A DEMOCRAT. YOU HAVE BEEN LINKED TO THE REPUBLICAN PARTY, WORKED FOR GOVERNOR DOUGLAS FOR EIGHT YEARS, ALSO WITH THE REPUBLICAN PARTY. EVER THINK YOU WOULD HEAR THOSE WORDS FROM DEMOCRAT PETER SHUMLIN?

>> WELL, I THINK VERMONTERS DIDN'T EXPECT A LOT OF THINGS. DIDN'T EXPECT IRENE, DIDN'T EXPECT THE OUTPOURING. I GUESS WE DID EXPECT IT, EVERY TIME THERE IS A DISASTER LIKE THIS, VERMONTERS OF -- DOESN'T MATTER WHERE YOU ARE FROM, YOU COME TOGETHER AND WORK, SO KIND OF EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED FOLLOWING IRENE, AND THIS IS A DISASTER LIKE THIS DOES NOT HAVE POLITICAL STRIPE. IT DOESN'T MATTER WHAT PARTY YOU ARE IN, DOESN'T MATTER WHERE YOU ARE FROM, DOESN'T MATTER WHERE YOU WORK. WE ALL COME TOGETHER TO DO OUR PART, BIG OR SMALL, TO MAKE VERMONT BETTER, TO HELP OUR NEIGHBORS IN NEED, I'M VERY HONORED TO BE ABLE TO DO MY PART. CERTAINLY WORK AS HARD AS I CAN THE NEXT FOUR MONTHS TO DO -- TO GET OUR STATE BACK ON THE ROAD, ON THE RIGHT TRAJECTORY TO RECOVER AND BE BETTER THAN EVER.

>> WHY DID YOU TAKE THE JOB?

>> BECAUSE OF THAT. I MEAN, I LOVE THE STATE, I WAS BORN HERE, GREW UP HERE, I WENT TO SCHOOL AWAY BUT I CAME BACK. I WORKED FOR JIM DOUGLAS FOR EIGHT YEARS IN DIFFERENT CAPACITIES, A MAN WHO LOVES HIS STATE SO MUCH, BETTER -- PETER SHUMLIN LOVES THIS STATE. AND THAT'S WHY, IF YOU ARE GOVERNOR, YOU LOVE THE STATE. AND WE ALL DO. AND TO BE ABLE TO COME AND DO THIS PIECE OF IT, AND USING THE EXPERIENCE THAT I'VE GAINED AS BOTH TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY AND ADMINISTRATION SECRETARY, USING THE RELATIONSHIPS I'VE FORMED WITH REPUBLICANS, DEMOCRATS AND PROGRESSIVES, RELATIONSHIPS IN TOWNS AND COMMUNITIES AROUND THE STATE, BRING ALL THAT TO BARON THIS MOST IMPORTANT -- BEAR ON THIS MOST IMPORTANT CHALLENGE, I FELT THAT WAS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT. IT WAS WORTH HOPPING BACK IN, AND DOING IT, AND SHOWING VERMONT THAT THERE'S NO POLITICAL LABEL ON THIS. IT IS A BI-PARTISAN, TRI-PARTISAN EFFORT, DOESN'T MATTER, ANY OF THOSE THINGS, IT MATTERS COMING TOGETHER AND BEING VERMONTERS FIRST.

>> THIS IS GOVERNOR PETER SHUMLIN'S FIRST TERM AS GOVERNOR. HOW IS HE DOING DEALING WITH THE AFTERMATH OF IRENE?

>> WELL, HE IS CERTAINLY BEEN ON THE GROUND, AND I THINK HIS TEAM HAS BEEN FULLY ENGAGED FROM THE BEGINNING, AND WE'VE BEEN ABLE TO SEE THAT. THEY'VE BEEN SUPPORTED BY PARTNERS AT THE LOCAL LEVEL, THE FEDERAL LEVEL AND THE GOVERNOR HAS BEEN VERY CLEAR, DO WHAT NEEDS TO GET DONE, AND HE HAS BEEN MAKING SURE THAT I HAVE THE AUTHORITY TO DO THAT, ALL HIS CABINET HAS THE AUTHORITY TO DO WHAT NEEDS TO GET DONE, TO GET VERMONTERS BUILDING AGAIN. I THINK IN A TIME OF CRISIS, THAT'S A WHAT A LEADER NEEDS TO DO, IS TO BE FULLY ENGAGED, MAKE SURE THE TEAM IS FULLY ENGAGED, FOCUSED ON THE RIGHT OBJECTIVES, CONTINUING TO DRIVE THAT EVERY DAY UNTIL WE'RE AT A PLACE WHERE WE CAN TAKE A DEEP BREATH. BUT RIGHT NOW, WE'RE STILL IN IT. WE STILL HAVE COMMUNITIES THAT NEED HELP, IT'S GOING TO BE THAT WAY FOR SOME TIME. RECOVERY DOESN'T HAPPEN OVERNIGHT. IT'S JUST LIKE THE REST OF OUR INFRASTRUCTURE, IT IS GOING TO TAKE SOME TIME. SOME PIECES WILL TAKE MONTH, SOME PIECES WILL TAKE YEARS, AND WE ARE AT THE BEGINNING OF THIS ROAD, IT IS GOING TO REQUIRE VERMONTERS COMING TOGETHER FOR A LONG TIME. AND PART OF, I THINK, WHAT I WANT TO DO, IS MAKE SURE THAT AS, YOU KNOW, IRENE BECOMES A LITTLE, YOU KNOW, ANOTHER WEEK AWAY, ANOTHER WEEK FURTHER BACK, THAT WE DON'T FORGET ABOUT IT, AND THERE WILL BE FAMILIES THAT WILL BE AFFECTED BY THIS FOR A LONG TIME. AND IT IS IMPORTANT THAT ALL OF US REMEMBER WE NEED TO HELP VERMONTERS FROM OUR COMMUNITY DO WHAT WE CAN TO GET FOLKS BACK ON THEIR FEET. WE NEED THAT HELP LONG AFTER THIS DISASTER IS OVER.

>> AND AS YOU HAD MENTIONED THE RECOVERY IS A WAYS DOWN THE ROAD, WE ARE STILL IN A RESPONSE PHASE AT THIS POINT.

>> UM-HUM. THAT'S REALLY THE CASE. BUT WE'RE GOING TO START TO MAKE THAT TRANSITION TO RECOVERY SOON. WE HAVE TO START THINKING ABOUT IT, BECAUSE WE DON'T WANT, YOU KNOW, WE CAN BE A RESPONSE AND WHEN THAT STOPS, NOW WHAT. WELL, WE HAVE TO BEGIN TO THINK ABOUT WHAT THAT "WHAT" IS. AND CERTAINLY OUR PARTNERS AT EVERY LEVEL HAVE BEGUN TO THINK ABOUT THAT. I WANT TO MAKE SURE THAT THOSE EFFORTS, AS I MENTIONED BEFORE, THE GOVERNOR CHARGED ME WITH MAKING SURE THOSE EFFORTS ARE PROGRESSING EVERY DAY, THAT WE ARE MAKING STEPS TO DO THAT.

>> WE ARE GOING TO TAKE A QUICK BREAK. W

>>> WELCOME BACK. WE'RE JOINED WITH NEALE LUNDERVILLE THIS MORNING. IRENE'S NEW -- EXCUSE ME, STATE RECOVERY OFFICER. NEALE, YOU WERE TAKING A LEAVE FROM GREEN MOUNTAIN POWER. THERE HAS BEEN SOME CRITICISM FROM GOVERNOR -- THERE HAS BEEN SOME CRITICISM IN GENERAL POLITICALLY ABOUT GOVERNOR SHUMLIN AND HIS ADMINISTRATION BEING A LITTLE TOO CLOSE POLITICALLY WITH GREEN MOUNTAIN POWER. ARE YOU WORRIED THAT THIS APPOINTMENT COULD EXACERBATE THAT CRITICISM?

>> WELL, YOU KNOW, ANYTIME ANYONE DOES ANYTHING SOMEBODY IS GOING TO BE CRITICAL OF IT. IT IS IN THE NATURE OF THINGS SOMETIMES. BUT AT THE SAME TIME, AS I MENTIONED BEFORE, TAKING UNPAID LEVEL FROM -- LEAVE FROM GREEN MOUNTAIN POWER, I HAVE ONE FOCUS AND ONE FOCUS ALONE IN MY JOB AS IRENE RECOVERY OFFICER, AND THAT IS TO BRING THE STATE BACK BETTER THAN IT WAS, AND PUT US ON THE RIGHT DIRECTION AND THE RIGHT TRAJECTORY TO DO THAT. SO I DON'T THINK THAT CRITICISM IS FOUNDED, AND I THINK THERE IS A TIME WHEN, YOU KNOW, I MENTIONED, YOU KNOW, RARLD REGARDLESS OF WHERE YOU WERE AND WHAT YOU WERE DOING BEFORE, VERMONTERS COME TOGETHER AND PULL TOGETHER TO MAKE THINGS HAPPEN, AND I SEE MY ROLE IN THAT LIGHT.

>> SHOULD DECISIONS COME UP INVOLVING GREEN MOUNTAIN POWER, WHO WILL HANDLE THOSE DECISIONS? WILL IT BE YOU OR HAS SOMEONE ELSE BEEN CHARGED TO HANDLE THOSE DECISIONS.

>> THE GOVERNOR AND I TALKED ABOUT THIS, DISCUSSING THIS ROLE, AND ANY DECISION THAT WILL AFFECT GREEN MOUNTAIN POWER'S BUSINESS, I WILL DEFER TO JEB SPAULDING, WHO IS THE SECRETARY OF ADMINISTRATION, AND HE WILL MAKE THAT DECISION. THE DAY-TO-DAY STUFF, IF THERE'S ANY DAY-TO-DAY STUFF ON UTILITY RELOCATION, THAT'S THE MORE KIND OF RUN OF THE MILL THINGS, I DON'T EXPECT TO DEFER ALL THAT TO HIM, BUT AT THIS POINT, I DON'T EXPECT THERE TO BE A LOT OF EITHER OF THOSE THINGS. FRANKLY, I AM NOT LOOKING AT THE TYPES OF UTILITY ISSUES, I'M LOOKING AT QUITE A RANGE OF OTHER ISSUES, BUT THE KIND OF POLICY OR BUSINESS DECISIONS THAT WOULD AFFECT GOP DID COME UP REGARDING SECRETARY SPAULDING.

>>> AND SPEAKING OF GREEN MOUNTAIN POWER, HOW WAS YOUR EMPLOYER IN YOU TAKING ON THIS ROLE?

>> IT BECOMES A DIFFICULT TIME FOR GREEN MOUNTAIN POWER. I REALLY APPRECIATE THAT THEY WERE WILLING -- CERTAINLY THEY KNEW, AS I DID, WHEN THE CALL CAME, THERE WAS ONLY ONE ANSWER, AND THAT WAS YES, WE NEED TO DO THIS NOW, BUT IT DOES COME AT A DIFFICULT TIME. MARY POWELL, THE CEO OF GREEN MOUNTAIN POWER DOES UNDERSTAND THE NEED FOR DOING ALL THAT WE CAN IN THIS DISASTER, AND CERTAINLY THE UTILITIES WERE SOME OF THE STARS OF THE DISASTER RECOVERY, BOTH SENT CENTRAL VERMONT PUBLIC SERVICE AND GREEN MOUNTAIN POWER, THE CREWS THERE WORKED SO HARD TO GET POWER BACK ON, THAT SPIRIT OF SERVICE AND REALLY SELFLESSNESS, WORKING AROUND THE CLOCK. THIS IS JUST ANOTHER FORM OF THAT, ME COMING TO DO THIS, AND ALLOWING ME TO DO IT, JUST ANOTHER FORM OF THE CIVIC RESPONSIBILITY THAT OUR UTILITIES AROUND THE STATE FEEL. IT IS NOT JUST GMP, IT IS ALL THE UTILITIES AROUND THE STATE CHIPPED IN. THEY WERE JOINED BY CREWS, AND YOU REPORTED ON IT SO WELL SO MANY TIMES, STORIES THAT YOU HEAR OF THE UTILITY CREWS AND ROAD CREWS WORKING TOGETHER TO BUILD A ROAD, TO GET IN THERE, TO GET THE BUCKET TRUCK UP, TO GET THE LINE REENERGIZED. WE HEAR SO MANY OF THOSE, IT HELPS BALANCE OUT THE DESTRUCTION THAT YOU SEE WHEN YOU VISIT A LOT OF THE PLACES AROUND VERMONT.

>> SOME OF OUR CREWS ACTUALLY HITCHED A RIDE WITH A FEW OF THOSE UTILITY CREWS TO GET IN ON SOME OF THESE CUT-OFF AREAS.

>>> YOU KNOW, WE'VE SEEN SO MUCH, AND WE TALKED ABOUT THIS BEFORE THE COMMERCIAL BREAK. VERMONTERS REALLY COMING TOGETHER, AND WORKING HARD TO GET THEIR NEIGHBORS, YOU KNOW, BACK ON THEIR FEET, IF YOU WILL, FEEDING THEIR NEIGHBORS, HELPING THEM CLEAN UP. OFTENTIMES WHEN THIS FALLS OUT OF THE HEADLINES OF NATIONAL NEWS, AND YOU SORT OF TOUCHED ON THIS AS WELL, YOU KNOW, WE SEE THAT VOLUNTEERISM START TO WANE, PEOPLE START TO FORGET A LITTLE BIT. BUT THERE WILL BE A NEED AS WE TALKED ABOUT, THIS IS JUST THE RESPONSE, THE RECOVERY WILL TAKE PERHAPS YEARS. HOW DO WE MAKE SURE THAT WE'RE STILL HELPING OUR NEIGHBORS?

>> WELL, IT IS ALL OF OUR RESPONSIBILITY TO HELP MAKE SURE WE'RE DOING THAT. CERTAINLY YOU'LL HEAR ME TALKING ABOUT -- YOU'LL HEAR THE GOVERNOR TALKING ABOUT IT, HIS CABINET TALKING ABOUT IT, YOU'LL HEAR LEADERS TALKING ABOUT IT, BECAUSE IT IS GOING TO BE -- THERE WILL BE DECISIONS THAT WILL BE MADE AND THE LEGISLATURE THAT WILL COME UP. PART OF THE MEDIA'S RESPONSIBILITY TO MAKE SURE WE'RE TALKING ABOUT IT, TOO. MAKE SURE YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT IT. OUT OF SIGHT DOES NOT MEAN OUT OF MIND, IT CAN'T MEAN OUT OF MIND. WE HAVE VERMONTERS THAT WILL FACE VERY DIFFICULT SITUATIONS INTO THIS WINTER, AND IN YEARS TO COME, TRY TO REBUILD THEIR LIVES, AND WE HAVE TO REMEMBER THAT. WE HAVE COMMUNITIES THAT, LIKE I MENTIONED WILMINGTON, BUT THERE ARE SO MANY OTHERS, WATERBURY, SUCH DEVASTATION. IT WILL TAKE TIME FOR THAT COMMUNITY, THEY HAVE THE NEED TO HEAL, BECAUSE THE COMMUNITY HAS COME TOGETHER, BUT TO REBUILD THAT. WE WANT TO MAKE SURE THEY ARE NOT JUST REBUILDING IT TO WHERE IT WAS, BUT THAT IT'S BETTER. THAT'S PART OF AN EFFORT THAT NEEDS TO BE CONVERTED, IT NEEDS TO BE -- CONCERTED, TOP OF MIND FOR PEOPLE. THROUGH THIS WE HAVE TO TRY TO SEE THE ONE OPPORTUNITIES THAT WE HAVE WHEN WE HAVE, WHERE THERE IS DEVASTATION, AND WE HAVE RESOURCES, LET'S GO IN AND DO IT BETTER THAN BEFORE. WHERE THERE'S AN OPPORTUNITY TO MAKE BUILDINGS MORE FLOOD RESISTANT TO MAKE BRIDGES MORE FLOOD RESISTANT, WE HAVE TO TAKE THAT OPPORTUNITY. IT WILL BE AN OPPORTUNITY LOST, AND IT WOULD BE SOMETHING THAT WE DON'T WANT TO BE HERE FIVE YEARS FROM NOW SAYING WE SHOULD HAVE DONE THAT, WE SHOULD HAVE DONE THIS. THAT'S ONE OF THOSE THINGS THAT I'M LOOKING AT AS WE -- AND FRANKLY, EVERYBODY IS LOOKING AT MAKING SURE THAT THAT OCCURS AS PART OF THE RECOVERY MISSION.

>> SPEAKING OF THAT, YOU KNOW, SOME PEOPLE HAVE WONDERED IF, WE'RE LOOKING AT A POTENTIALLY $20 MILLION INVESTMENT IN CLEANING UP THE STATE OFFICE COMPLEX AND WATERBURY. DO YOU THINK WE'RE GOING TO MOVE FORWARD WITH THAT? DO YOU THINK THAT THAT'S JUST IN A BAD LOCATION, GOD FORBID THIS EVER HAPPENED AGAIN?

>> YEAH, IT IS PROBABLY A LITTLE TOO EARLY TO REALLY TELL YOU WHERE THAT IS GOING TO GO. THE GOVERNOR HAS SAID THAT HE WANTS TO EXPLORE THE FULL RANGE OF OPTIONS WITH REGARD TO THE STATE OFFICE COMPLEX IN WATERBURY, UNDERSTANDING THE GEOLOGICAL, YOU KNOW, YOU CAN'T ESCAPE THE FACT THAT IT IS IN A FLOOD PLAIN.

>> RIGHT.

>> AT THE SAME TIME, THE VERY IMPORTANT LOCATION, A LOT OF STATE EMPLOYEES THERE, VERY IMPORTANT TO THE WATERBURY COMMUNITY, THAT THE STATE EMPLOYEES BE THERE, IT'S PART OF THE HEARTBEAT OF WATERBURY, IS THAT STATE OFFICE COMPLEX, SO WE -- SECRETARY SPAULDING WILL -- IS REALLY TAKING A LEAD WITH HIS TEAM, LOOKING AT THE FULL RANGE OF OPTIONS THERE. I WILL ASSIST IN ANY WAY I CAN TO SEE HOW WE CAN HELP REBUILD THERE. AND CERTAINLY BE A SOUNDING BOARD FOR ANY IDEAS THAT THEY HAVE.

>> GOING BACK TO WHAT DARREN WAS TALKING ABOUT A SECOND AGO, THE SPIRIT OF VERMONTERS AND COMING TOGETHER, WE'VE HEARD A LOT ABOUT THE VOLUNTEERING AND THE PHYSICAL ASPECTS OF WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP MY NEIGHBORS CLEAN OUT THEIR HOUSE, REBUILD THEIR ROADS. THE GOVERNOR MENTIONED IN LAST WEEK'S PRESS CONFERENCE THE EMOTIONAL TOLL THIS IS TAKING ON FAMILIES THAT WERE PARTICULARLY HARD HIT. DO YOU GUYS HAVE A LONG-TERM STRATEGY OF HOW YOU'RE GOING TO HELP THESE VERMONTERS EMOTIONALLY LATER ON DOWN THE ROAD?

>> THERE IS PART OF OUR RECOVERY EFFORT IS MAKING SURE THAT WE ARE STAYING IN CONTACT WITH THE FAMILIES WHO ARE EXPERIENCING LOSS. WE'RE WORKING THROUGH A NETWORK OF PRIVATE ORGANIZATIONS AND PRIVATE DONATION NETWORKS TO GIVE THEM NOT ONLY THE RESOURCE THEY NEED, BUT WHATEVER COUNSELING THEY NEED. WE HAVE AN AMAZING NETWORK OF HEALTH AND MENTAL HEALTH ORGANIZATIONS IN VERMONT, WE WANT TO DRAW ON THEIR EXPERTISE, AND TALENT TO WORK IN THESE COMMUNITIES AND WORK WITH FOLKS. WE DON'T NEED TO REINVENT THE WHEEL. WE HAVE SUCH GREAT SERVICES HERE IN VERMONT, AND IN ALL OF THOSE AREAS, LET'S BRING THOSE TO BARON THE PEOPLE WHO WERE AFFECTED BY THIS.

>> YOU LEFT THE PUBLIC SECTOR FOR A SHORT WHILE REALLY, IT TURNS OUT.

>> RIGHT.

>> HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE BACK IN PUBLIC LIFE AGAIN?

>> IT'S BEEN QUITE A CHANGE. I'VE BEEN GOING INTO MY FIFTH YEAR SINCE THE ANNOUNCEMENT STARTED LAST WEEK, ALTHOUGH I OFFICIALLY BEGAN WORK ON MONDAY, I TOURED THE STATE LAST FRIDAY WITH THE GOVERNOR, I SPENT LAST WEEKEND VISITING COMMUNITIES AND IN SOUTHERN VERMONT, SO THAT I HAVE -- I AM ABLE TO START WITH MY ENGINE WARM ON WHAT'S GOING ON OUT THERE. SO I HAVEN'T HAD TOO MUCH TIME TO REFLECT ON IT, IS PART OF THE ANSWER. I KNOW THAT IT IS A CONTINUED EFFORT LIKE THAT THROUGH THE END OF MY MISSION. I CERTAINLY LOVE PUBLIC SERVICE, AND I MISSED IT WHEN I LEFT. I'VE BEEN FORTUNATE TO HAVE A GREAT JOB AT A GREAT EMPLOYER AT GREEN MOUNTAIN POWER, SO IT DID MAKE ME, YOU KNOW, NOT REMEMBER IT AS MUCH, BUT NOW BEING BACK IN IT, I REMEMBER HOW MUCH I DO LOVE IT. THERE'S SO MUCH TO DO, AND I WOULD ENCOURAGE ALL VERMONTERS, REMEMBER THE VICTIMS, REMEMBER THE COMMUNITIES, DO ALL YOU CAN TO HELP A NEIGHBOR IN NEED, AND THERE'S ALWAYS TIME TO GIVE, THERE'S ALWAYS SOMETHING TO VOLUNTEER FOR, MAKE IT PART OF WHAT YOU DO YEAR ROUND.

>> VERY QUICKLY, WE HAVE ABOUT TWO MINUTES LEFT. YOU SAID YOU HIT THE GROUND RUNNING. MAYBE YOU CAN LEAVE OUR VIEWERS WITH SOME OF THE ANECTDOTES YOU'VE SEEN, SOME OF THE THINGS YOU'VE SEEN AS YOU HIT THE GROUND RUNNING.

>> WELL, GOING INTO THE COMMUNITIES, IT'S BEEN, YOU KNOW, EVERY TIME -- YOU KNOW, PEOPLE ASKED ME WHAT IS THE MOST AMAZING THING YOU'VE SEEN. THERE'S NOT ONE. YOU'VE BEEN AROUND THE STATE. EVERY ONE MAKES YOU GO OH, MY GOD, THAT'S AMAZING, I CAN'T BELIEVE, YOU KNOW, ANYTHING IS STILL HERE, AND THE RIVERS, BUT BEING WITH SOME OF THE INDIVIDUALS WHO ARE MAKING A VERY DIFFICULT CHOICE, DO I REBUILD, DO I STAY, HAVING, YOU KNOW, STARTING THOSE CONVERSATIONS, IT IS NOT SO MUCH AN ANECDOTE, IT DOES REMIND ME EVERY DAY I DO THIS THAT BEHIND ALL OF THE DEBRIS FIELD AND ALL OF THE HOMES, YOU KNOW, JUST THE LOGS EE SEE SHALL -- LOGS WE SEE, THERE'S HUMAN STORIES BEHIND ALLFUL THAT. EVERYTHING HAS A HUMAN ELEMENT TO THIS. THAT'S PART OF WHAT I CARRY IN MAKING SURE WE KEEP THAT AS PART OF WHAT WE REMEMBER EVERY DAY AS WE REBUILD. SO THERE'S NOT ONE THING THAT I CAN POINT TO OTHER THAN TO SAY THERE'S SO MANY OF THEM, IT WOULD BE DIFFICULT TO POINT TO ONE.

>> NEALE LUNDERVILLE, IRENE RECOVERY OFFICER, WE APPRECIATE YOUR TIME TODAY.

>> THANKS FOR HAVING ME.

>> GOOD LUCK.

>> THANK YOU FOR JOINING US EVERYBODY.  

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