FEMA aid tallies to rise from 2011 state disasters

ADDISON COUNTY — It’s a new year, but the Federal Emergency Management Agency late last month said it will be working well into 2012 to help individuals, towns and the state recover from damage wrought by two major weather events in 2011.
Between last spring’s record flooding and Tropical Storm Irene in late August, FEMA received 8,418 registrations for disaster aid throughout Vermont in 2011, including 178 Addison County individuals and families that requested aid after Irene.
As of Dec. 30, FEMA had approved $23.1 million in grants for individuals across the state for home repairs, rental and housing assistance, and a variety of other needs. Of those, 157 received the maximum possible allotment of $30,200.
The 178 Addison County grants totaled $492,326.
The Small Business Administration, which works closely with FEMA to provide loans, also approved $18.8 million in home loans to individual Vermonters. In 2011, the SBA also approved $12.4 million in loans to businesses.
The state of Vermont also received more than $18 million in Public Assistance funding from FEMA, which will cover 75 percent of project costs for infrastructure that the state and towns rebuilt following the disasters.
While many towns have put rebuilding damaged infrastructure on hold for the winter, FEMA estimates that there will be nearly 4,300 eligible projects all-told, with a total of $168 million in repairs eligible for public assistance funding.
Vermont’s congressional delegation also announced on Wednesday that the state would get an additional $134.6 million in emergency funds from the U.S. Department of Transportation to help the state rebuild infrastructure. According to a joint press release, that total includes $125,651,814 to address Irene-related repairs and $8,975,130 for repairs from the spring flooding.
Further down the line, the state can also expect to see FEMA-funded mitigation projects, which will be aimed at moderating the impact of future floods. After a disaster, a FEMA grant program allocates funds totaling 15 percent of the total public costs to the state. This funding is available to partially fund any mitigation projects that the state or towns undertake.
In a press release, FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer James Russo acknowledged that the agency will be doing work in the state for a long time to come.
“We know that a lot of people are still hurting despite all that we’ve done, and we are going to be here as long as it takes to finish the job,” said Russo.
Reporter Andrea Suozzo is at [email protected].

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