Home News and Features Montpelier Strong is Supporting Business Recovery

Montpelier Strong is Supporting Business Recovery

From left, Montpelier business owners Shannon Bates, owner of Enna; Jen Roberts, co-owner of Onion River Outdoors; and Lauren Parker, owner of North Branch Cafe, speak at a press conference on Langdon Street on July 21. Standing before reporters in the rain, backdropped by piles of flood-damaged debris, business owners called for more financial assistance for businesses, and clarity from the state of Vermont about the health effects of handling contaminated, mud-covered debris. Photo by Cassandra Hemenway.
“. . . but you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone” — Joni Mitchell, 1969

In the wake of the July 11 flood, residents, business owners, and a host of volunteers, emergency responders, and companies specializing in flood damage recovery, along with the city’s Department of Public Works, have removed tons of debris and worked to dry out and sanitize not only basements, but also many first-floor levels of homes, shops, and offices.

“It brought tears to my eyes,” recalled one long-time resident of the city after walking through downtown once much of the initial clean-up was completed and the swirling dust from the drying river mud was swept away.

Most of the familiar stores, shops, cafes, and restaurants have had their counters, shelves, walls, equipment, and even floors stripped away. Related casualties include heating and air-conditioning systems, hot water heaters, and electrical boxes. 

The clean-up efforts have been largely coordinated through the hub, a cluster of tents set up in the small park on Main Street between Shaw’s supermarket and the Drawing Board. Montpelier Alive executive director Katie Trautz along with Peter Walke, managing director of Efficiency Vermont, and Montpelier Parks and Trees director Alec Elsworth, have been central figures in pulling together the community response.

The city has named Paul Costello, former executive director of Rural Vermont, to head the steering committee that will guide a series of public discussions about what the community needs to do in response to what has clearly become a threat of frequent flooding at the confluence of the Winooski and North Branch rivers in the heart of Montpelier’s downtown.

Montpelier Alive is providing a listing of businesses, updated daily, reopening or offering sales and gift certificates at montpelieralive.com/flood2023bizopenings-. Several businesses have been setting up booths and tents during the Montpelier Farmers Market at its current location on the Vermont College of Fine Arts green at the intersection of College and East State streets.

To assist Montpelier businesses, Montpelier Alive and the Montpelier Foundation have collaborated to set up the Montpelier Strong Recovery Fund. The fund will assist Montpelier downtown businesses in cleanup and rebuilding after the devastating flooding that occurred on July 11, 2023.  Donations to the Montpelier Strong Recovery Fund can be made online at montpelieralive.com/strong. All donations are tax-deductible, and 100% of contributions will be distributed to flood victims.