Bristol tallies up cost of flood repairs

BRISTOL — When Tropical Storm Irene slammed Vermont  a year ago, Bristol wasn’t as badly marred as some Vermont towns. But large sections of several major roads were wiped out, construction projects were taken back to phase one and several old structures were destroyed.
One year later, Bristol Administrator Bill Bryant said the town’s infrastructure and finances are in good shape. He credited the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans), among others, for aiding in the recovery.
“The big news for Bristol is that Bristol did not suffer that great of damage from the storm, and FEMA and VTrans have come through for us with everything,” said Bryant. “Were there bumps in the road? Sure. But our bumps got put back together pretty quickly.”
According to Bryant’s numbers, Bristol received $166,479.34 to rebuild after Irene.
Of that amount, $42,125.80 came from FEMA; $111,152.92 came from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHA) and VTrans; and more than $13,000 came from the Vermont League of Cities and Towns’ inter-municipal risk pool.
FEMA covered the costs of several projects, said Bryant, including reimbursing the town:
•  $18,000 to repair damage to Lower Notch and Carlstrom roads.
•  $9,500 to repair a big washout around the abutments of the South Street Bridge.
•  $8,000 to rebuild the walkway for the Eagle Park fishing platform off Lincoln Road.
The FHA and VTrans paid about $83,000 to fix a big section of Lincoln Road, which blew out from heavy floods, and $28,000 to fix a smaller section of the road closer to Route 116.
The $13,200 that the Vermont League of Cities paid to Bristol was for the old “Lincoln waterworks springhouse,” said Bryant. Although it wasn’t in use, he said, it was town property that was destroyed.
Bryant explained that Irene added a serious burden to town administrators and managers across the state, who are already tasked with overseeing numerous infrastructure projects during the summer and keeping a town’s finances in check.
“When you think about some of these towns that had damage in the millions, it eats into the normal routine quite deeply,” he said. “For the most part, you get pretty good cooperation from FEMA and VTrans, but it’s complicated to keep track of everything.”
While some Vermont towns and state agencies are still scrambling for federal help, Bryant said he feels fortunate that Bristol is not.
“I felt the federal government came through very well for us,” he said. “With some of this stuff, they write rules in Washington and try to apply it to all 50 states and all types of disasters, so there are some gray areas. And there were some gray areas, but we talked through them. And in the end, Bristol was satisfied with what happened for our different claims.”
Moving forward, the town will be in a better place to deal with disasters and obtain funding for hazard mitigation projects, said Tim Bouton, emergency response planner for the Addison County Regional Planning Commission.
The Bristol selectboard on Aug. 13 adopted a FEMA-authorized hazard mitigation plan, which enables the town to access FEMA funding for large infrastructure projects and plans.
The 58-page document can also act as a guide for the town when dealing with potential disasters in the future, said Bouton.
The town’s hazard mitigation plan will be available at addisonindependent.com. Reporter Andrew Stein is at [email protected]

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