Gov. Peter Shumlin, Vermont's Congressional delegation and FEMA officials today announced a $19.8 million investment to reduce the risk of property damage due to future flooding, and help homeowners and businesses whose properties are currently located in dangerous flood plains. The Hazard Mitigation Grant Program will enable communities to buy eligible properties damaged in 2011 and at serious risk of future flooding. The award list contains 72 projects, including the buy-out of 13 homes in Northfield. Those projects must now be approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Under the rules of the program, towns take ownership of the properties with the provision that no structures can be rebuilt on the flood prone land.
"Today's announcement represents a milestone in our recovery," Gov. Shumlin said. "Thanks to FEMA and this program, we are able to invest federal resources into helping individual homeowners and communities not only recover from this disaster, but move families and businesses out of the path of future flooding."
"Irene was a once-in-a-century storm that revealed the incredible resilience of Vermonters in the face of overwhelming adversity," said Sens. Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders, and Rep. Peter Welch in a joint statement. "It also taught us valuable lessons about how to minimize the destructive effects of future natural disasters. These funds are another significant boost of federal support that will help Vermont implement the lessons learned from this devastating storm."
Vermont cities and towns became eligible for funding under the Hazard Mitigation Program after multiple federally declared disasters in 2011. The program provides money for projects aimed at mitigating the risk for future flooding -- federal funds pay for 75 percent of these projects and "the State is committed to doing everything we can to make towns and property owners whole under the program," Gov. Shumlin said.
While there are 72 projects involved in Vermont's application, many projects involve multiple properties. There are a total of 76 primary residences in 26 towns identified by the state to receive funds for buyouts. Another 22 rental properties (24 units) in 10 communities have been recommended by the state for funding. The entire list of projects must now be approved by FEMA before work can commence.
The list also include a wide variety of mitigation projects, including public infrastructure upgrades (roads, bridges, culverts, municipal building flood proofing), public education and outreach efforts, and planning activities designed to enable the state to better withstand the ravages of future flooding. The state mitigation selection committee gave priority to primary residences in connection with the buy-out program, as well as public infrastructure.
Due to the number of disasters, Vermont communities are also eligible for another round of Hazard Mitigation Grants. The deadline to apply for those grants is Friday, March 16, and the State anticipates receiving additional federal funding later this spring for a potential third round of HMGP applications. The application submission deadlines for these funds will be announced at a later date.