FEMA authorizes $3.7M for Vt. rain and wind damage in October

MONTPELIER — Gov. Phil Scott earlier this month announced that President Donald Trump has signed a major disaster declaration for Addison, Chittenden, Essex, Franklin, Grand Isle, Lamoille, Orange, Orleans, Washington, and Windham counties. Those counties suffered substantial damage during wind and rain storms this past Oct. 29 and 30.
A Preliminary Damage Assessment by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) identified $3.7 million in public infrastructure damage statewide far exceeding the $1 million minimum Vermont must show to be considered for a disaster declaration. That estimate only accounts for enough identified damage to qualify for federal “Public Assistance” funding.
Addison, Chittenden, Essex, Franklin, Grand Isle, Lamoille, Orange, Orleans, Washington, and Windham counties each exceeded the $3.68 per capita threshold needed to qualify communities and public utilities in those counties for assistance. A preponderance of the damage involved power restoration, including line work, power pole replacement and contractor assistance.
The Public Assistance disaster declaration allows communities and public utilities in those counties to receive 75 percent federal reimbursement for storm response and recovery. Those costs include power restoration, debris removal, and repairs to public roads, bridges and other infrastructure with damage resulting from the storm.
Vermont Emergency Management will soon announce multiple applicant briefings, which town leaders should attend to start the process for seeking federal assistance. The briefings will outline the requirements for receiving federal awards and maximizing eligibility of repairs. Vermont Emergency Management, Agency of Transportation District personnel, and FEMA will guide them through the application process.
The declaration also includes funds from the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program for towns, state agencies and approved non-profit organizations statewide. This program provides funding for a variety of mitigation activities, including home buyouts, structural elevations, flood proofing and public infrastructure upgrades for roads, bridges and culverts in vulnerable locations.
More information on the Public Assistance process can be found online at vem.vermont.gov/funding/pa.

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