Last week, on January 8, I had the great honor and pleasure to represent FEMA at a groundbreaking ceremony for the Green Mountain Psychiatric Care Center in Berlin, Vermont. Leading up to this milestone event, federal, state and local partners have faced extraordinarily complex and challenging issues. Through the collaborative teamwork of all stakeholders, we have moved forward to work through problems and arrive at solutions that will benefit all of Vermont.
Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin led the groundbreaking ceremony and news conference, with Building and General Services Commissioner Michael Obuchowski, Department of Mental Health Commissioner Mary Moulton and state senators and representatives speaking to the news media and the public about the importance of mental healthcare and the federal government’s role in whole community recovery.
As I listened to each speaker, I was overwhelmed by the heartfelt words and expressions of thanks to the federal partners involved with this project. When Tropical Storm Irene inundated the Vermont State Hospital in Waterbury in late August and early September of 2011, it was the straw that broke the camel’s back of an already strained psychiatric healthcare system. Breaking ground for the new psychiatric hospital in Berlin was indeed a reason to celebrate the recovery from the storm’s destruction as well as the path forward for the whole community.
I am proud of the collective effort put forth by everyone to get to this milestone event. In addition to the FEMA team currently working in Vermont, all of whom I commend for their extreme dedication, there are many who have come before us who played a big part in achieving this first positive, visible step forward and what I hope will be one of many that we will see in the months ahead as this project continues. My sincere thanks to the state of Vermont for allowing me to share in your celebration, and I assure you that your federal partners will support you throughout the recovery process.
Mark H. Landry, CEM
Federal Coordinating Officer
Disaster Recovery Manager
FEMA 4022 DR VT