Gov. Peter Shumlin and Vermont's Congressional delegation announced today that Vermont's request for a federal disaster declaration following damage caused by heavy rains, winds and flash flooding from May 29 has been approved by President Barack Obama. The declaration will provide financial assistance to communities as they repair damage caused by the storm.
The declaration includes towns and cities in Addison, Lamoille, and Orleans counties that were damaged by high winds, a tornado, and flooding during that storm. Funds will go to communities to rebuild roads, repair bridges, and remove debris like gravel and tree limbs from public rights of way. Much of this work has already been done and communities will be able to apply funds to cover 75 percent of all recovery costs, including overtime paid to municipal employees and money paid to contractors for recovery work.
"Communities in those counties were hit hard by the heavy and rainfall that pounded the region during that storm, even creating a tornado in the area," said Gov. Shumlin. "This declaration will help those towns recover from the damage. I appreciate the ongoing efforts of Vermont's Congressional delegation and the support of FEMA and the Obama White House in providing the assistance needed to rebuild."
In a joint comment, Senator Patrick Leahy (D), Senator Bernie Sanders (I) and Congressman Peter Welch (D) said: "This has been a difficult year for Vermonters, and many of these communities, while still picking up the pieces after Irene's devastation, were hit again in May. We thank the President for his prompt approval of the Governor's request."
The declaration also makes all of Vermont's counties eligible for additional assistance from the federal Hazard Mitigation Grant program. HMGP grants pay for projects that prevent or reduce long term risk to life and property from natural hazards.
Vermont's Agency of Transportation has been working closely with damage assessment teams from FEMA and is still collecting damage reports from communities. Any town in the affected counties can still report damage to its local AOT office for the purposes of reimbursement. The damage must have occurred in the incident period to qualify.
Vermont Emergency Management and the Vermont Agency of Transportation will hold applicant briefings for municipal officials to help educate them on the application process. The dates, times, and locations of those meetings will likely be released shortly.