In Vermont, where flooding has cut off a dozen towns from the rest of the state and left thousands without access to electricity, the state’s ability to respond to Irene has been hobbled by a previous disaster: the war in Iraq.
The Burlington Free Press reports that the state has had to borrow 10 helicopters total from Illinois and New Hampshire to respond to the disaster because all six of its Black Hawk helicopters are still in Iraq:
Eight helicopters on loan from the Illinois National Guard were expected to arrive Tuesday night in Vermont to help the Vermont National Guard deliver food, medicine, water and other supplies to 13 Vermont towns cut off from the rest of the state in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene. The outside helicopter support is needed because all six of the Vermont Guard’s Black Hawk helicopters are still in Iraq, where they and 55 Vermont soldiers are wrapping up a yearlong hospital transport mission, said Lt. Lloyd Goodrow, spokesman for the Vermont Guard. [...] The New Hampshire National Guard sent over two of its Black Hawk helicopters on Monday. The two were used to transport Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate, Gov. Peter Shumlin, Sen. Bernie Sanders I-Vt., and Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., on a survey of flood-damaged areas in the state.
“We’d be in a very different scenario if they were here,” said Lt. Lloyd Goodrow, a spokesman for the Vermont National Guard, of the six Black Hawk helicopters. The helicopters being used in operations to drop supplies to the dozen towns that have been cut off are smaller than Vermont’s Black Hawks, and deliveries are occurring slowly.