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Vermont Copes With Severe Flooding, Death Toll Rises Post-Irene

Chris Baker surveys his Pompton Lakes, N.J., neighborhood, where rains and the cresting of nearby waters caused flooding. Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images.

Two days after Hurricane Irene blew through the East Coast, Vermont is coping with severe flooding in small towns like Brattleboro, which was inundated by heavy rains and rising rivers. At least three people have died across the state. Some areas were cut off by the rising waters.

Gov. Peter Shumlin called the damage to communities “just devastating” and said crews were working to clean up what was “probably the toughest flooding that we’ve seen in the state of Vermont in our history.”

Several towns in New York are dealing with similar levels of flooding. The effects inland were greater than expected; despite a large mobilization along the East Coast, landlocked areas were not evacuated. New Jersey was also hard-hit by rainwater, shuttering its mass transit system and swamping entire neighborhoods.

The death toll across 11 states increased to 40, due largely to falling trees, car accidents and drowning.

More than a million people are still without power as crews work to restore service after the storm knocked out power to 4 million structures. Damage estimates range from $7 billion.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is struggling to fully fund recovery efforts. The Washington Post reports:

In the next few weeks, the agency faces the prospect of trying to mount a disaster response without enough funding because a newly cost-conscious Congress is reluctant to spend money on anything — including disasters — without offsetting it with cuts elsewhere.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., insisted that there would be sufficient funding, but that the money would have to be cut from other parts of the budget.

On Monday’s NewsHour, Gwen Ifill spoke with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano about the federal government’s approach to dealing with the aftermath of the storm:

Watch the full episode. See more PBS NewsHour.

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