The Vermont Community Foundation announced today that it has granted or committed $11.8 million of the nearly $12.4 million in flood relief funds it has raised so far to help the state recover from one of the worst weather events in Vermont history.
The VT Flood Response & Recovery Fund 2023, created by the Foundation immediately after torrential flooding walloped the state on July 10, has now awarded $6.2 million in grants and committed another $5.6 million to assist Vermont through the next phases of recovery, with more to come.
“It’s been almost five months since catastrophic flooding ripped through our state. Since then, people from every corner of Vermont and beyond have pulled together to help,” said Dan Smith, president & CEO of the Vermont Community Foundation. “It’s thanks to that effort and many generous contributions that we have been able to direct funds where they are most needed and support communities as they rebuild. As the year’s end approaches, we know the recovery is not done but we also want to acknowledge the progress that could never have happened without so much support from people caring about their neighbors and this state.”
The flood fund has helped through all stages of the recovery, from supporting emergency shelter and initial mucking-out to long range strategies to build flood resilience in Vermont’s housing sector, downtown commercial districts, and watersheds. The fund has also consistently supported access to nourishing food, both in the immediate aftermath of the flooding, and through grants designed to support long-term food security and agriculture, including help for flood-affected farmers.
The most recent grant tally includes nearly $1.5 million in direct aid to farms and farmers. These funds were allocated through the Farm Disaster Relief Grant Program, which was created in August from the VT Flood Response & Recovery Fund. In total, the program made 157 grants of up to $10,000 to farms across Vermont.
“At this time of year, when we appreciate fall harvests and celebrate coming together with friends and family to share special meals, the importance of our local food systems, the viability of Vermont farms, and ensuring access to healthy food for all are key priorities for the Vermont Community Foundation,” said Holly Morehouse, vice president of Grants and Community Impact. “It has been important to direct a significant portion of the contributions into the Flood Response & Recovery Fund, approximately 28 percent, toward Vermont farms, food access, and watershed clean-up.”
Because of the generous gifts and contributions from so many donors and funding partners, the Farm Disaster Relief Grant Program—which has now wrapped up its work—was able to award grants to every eligible farm that applied for support, Morehouse added. “It feels incredibly appropriate and rewarding to know that no applicant was turned down due to lack of funds. We were also able to get the grants out to farmers quickly, responsibly, and without unnecessary strings or complications.”
All of that made a tough summer a little better at Lower Notch Farm in Bristol, where the flooding forced farmers Matt Bryan and Olivia Glascoe to deal with the loss of about half of their blueberry crop and cover unexpected costs for excavation and repairs to the property. The $10,000 farm grant, and the encouragement it represents, helped them get through a challenging summer and renew their commitment to farming. “We couldn’t have done it without the support,” Bryan said.
The flooding came in a year when inflation and high housing prices were already contributing to food insecurity in Vermont, exacerbating the situation and forcing some people to make difficult choices. That made the Flood Fund support all the more important. “When we can’t meet all of our basic needs, we cut our food budgets, because they’re the most flexible. And then we face hunger and food insecurity,” said Anore Horton, executive director of Hunger Free Vermont.
The nonprofit organization received a Flood Fund grant to provide stipends to restaurants that served free meals in the wake of the flooding.
“People just suddenly had to leave their houses, or their kitchens were inoperable. It took some time to get a coordinated response up and running and those restaurants stepped up as community heroes during that critical time,” Horton said. “We need to support them in return, so we keep them as essential community resources.”
The total grants and commitments so far from the VT Flood Response & Recovery Fund 2023 have been allocated to meet a range of needs, with about 30 percent of funds going to support repairing/rebuilding homes; 28 percent for farms, food, agriculture, and watersheds; 15 percent for business recovery, nonprofits, libraries, arts, mental health, and vulnerable populations; 14 percent for immediate response/critical needs, individual and family assistance, and capacity building; and 13 percent for community and climate resilience.
Visit vtfloodresponse.org/strategy for a deeper look at how the Vermont Community Foundation plans to distribute current and future donations to the VT Flood Response & Recovery Fund 2023.
Also check out the Foundation’s website for more information about the amazing giving to the fund, as well as stories about how the contributions are helping.
The Vermont Community Foundation was established in 1986 as an enduring source of philanthropic support for Vermont communities. A family of more than 900 funds, foundations, and supporting organizations, the Foundation makes it easy for the people who care about Vermont to find and fund the causes they love. The Community Foundation and its partners put more than $60 million annually to work in Vermont communities and beyond. The heart of its work is closing the opportunity gap—the divide that leaves too many Vermonters struggling to get ahead, no matter how hard they work. The Community Foundation envisions Vermont at its best—where everyone can build a bright, secure future. Visit vermontcf.org or call 802-388-3355 for more information.