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White House official visits Vt. to learn lessons from Irene - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

White House official visits Vt. to learn lessons from Irene

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BRIDGEWATER, Vt. -

Tropical Storm Irene terrorized Vermont 2.5 years ago, and some areas, like Bridgewater, are still rebuilding. The White House chair of the Council on Environmental Quality, Mike Boots, toured the Hazard Mitigation FEMA-funded home buyout site Thursday with Governor Peter Shumlin, and both leaders say Vermont's topography is one of the challenges agencies have faced in their rebuilding efforts.

"One of the major lessons of all these storms is you can't move rivers and when you do, you pay for it later," said Shumlin, D-Vermont.

But Boots and Shumlin reassure us that efforts are at full force and federal, local and state agencies are collaborating to bring assistance to more than 130 Vermont structures, most of which are homes. Both leaders emphasized that out of disaster has come great innovations in energy use.

"There's no better example than Vermont and Rutland, as an example of how we're getting it right," Shumlin said.

The White House chose Vermont as part of Boots' multistate tour and Rutland specifically because they believe we are leading the way in energy innovation.

"Communities here are changing the rules and innovating in ways that they hadn't, uh, thought about before those storms hit," Boots said.

Boots emphasized that although Vermont and the Marble City specifically are doing an excellent job, efficiency efforts need to continue and the threats of climate change are very real.

"Extreme weather is costing this country hundreds of billions of dollars every year, and what's happening is temperatures are becoming more extreme, storms are becoming more intense," Boots said.

Boots told us his visit was not just to see how Washington can assist with the rebuilding efforts, but to bring back lessons on efficiency that he has learned in Vermont.

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