Gov. Peter Shumlin, appearing with Vermonters who lost their homes in flooding created by Tropical Storm Irene, today outlined the various federal and state programs designed to get properties repaired and rebuilt as quickly as possible.
"It's been just over a week since the storm hit, and I have talked to hundreds people across the state whose lives have been turned upside down. Their homes, and in some cases their land, have been damaged or destroyed completely," Gov. Shumlin said. "We are moving quickly to get them assistance for repairs and replacement, as well as temporary housing."
As of today, FEMA has approved $4.3 million in assistance -- $4.2 million in housing assistance and $165,228 for other needs such as replacement of personal property. More than 2,000 Vermonters have registered for assistance, a number that will increase. To date there have been just over 700 homes confirmed as severely damaged or destroyed, and assessments continue.
There are 30 inspectors in the field and 750 property inspections have been completed. In addition, three disaster recovery centers are open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day until further notice: in Barre at Barre Municipal Auditorium, 16 Auditorium Hill; in Brattleboro at Living Memorial Park Skating Rink, 61 Memorial Park Drive; and in Waterbury at the Waterbury Fire Department, 43 South Main Street. The recovery centers are staffed with disaster recovery specialists from various federal, state and local agencies and organizations who can provide information and answer questions about storm-related assistance. Additional centers will be opening soon.
The White House has approved individual assistance for homeowners and businesses in eight counties: Addison, Chittenden, Orange, Bennington, Washington, Rutland, Windham and Windsor.
Assistance for losses sustained anytime after the storm may include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses and other programs to help recover from the effects of the disaster. Even those with insurance may be eligible for help from FEMA if their insurance policy does not cover all their needs, FEMA said.
Step 1: Register with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. There are several ways to register:
* Apply online anytime at www.DisasterAssistance.gov.
* Call 800-621-FEMA (3362) or TTY at 800-462-7585. Those who use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS) may call 800-621-3362. The toll-free telephone numbers operate from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week until further notice. Multilingual operators are available to assist with the application process.
* By smartphone or tablet, use m.fema.gov, or for devices with the Android operating system, a FEMA App can be downloaded at market.android.com/details?id=gov.fema.mobile.android.
When applying for aid you will receive a nine-digit registration number that can be used for reference when corresponding with FEMA.
It is helpful to have the following information handy:
* Current telephone number;
* Address at the time of the disaster and current address;
* Social Security number, if available;
* A general list of damages and losses;
* If insured, the name of insurance company, agent and policy number; and
* Bank routing number for any direct deposit.
Step 2: Receive a property inspection.
Within a few days after registering, eligible applicants will be telephoned to make an appointment to have their damaged property inspected. The inspectors, who are FEMA contractors and carry identification badges, visit to make a record of damage. They do not make a determination regarding assistance. There is no cost for the inspection.
Step 3: All applicants will receive a letter from FEMA regarding the status of their requests for federal assistance. Some will also receive an application for a low-interest disaster recovery loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Anyone who has questions about the letter from FEMA should call the helpline (800-621-3362 or TTY, 800-462-7585).
Those who receive an application packet from the SBA should complete and submit the forms. No one is required to accept a loan but submitting the application may open the door to additional FEMA grants.
An additional resource for those whose homes have been damaged is their local Homeownership Centers. These centers are funded, in part, with Community Development Block Grant funds from the Agency of Commerce and Community Development. They make low or deferred interest loans for home repairs and can help pay for damages that are not covered by insurance, FEMA or SBA disaster loans.
Renters who have been displaced can contact the organizations listed above, local housing nonprofits, housing authorities or search for available apartments on http://www.housingdata.org/, or by contacting:
Central Vermont Community Land Trust HOC -- 802-476-4493 or http://www.cvclt.org/
HOC of Chittenden County -- 802-862-6244 or http://www.getahome.org/
Gilman Housing Trust HOC -- 802-535-3445 or http://www.nekhome.org/
NeighborWorks of Western Vermont -- 802-438-2303 or http://www.nwwvt.org/
Windham and Windsor Housing Trust HOC -- 802-246-2109 or http://www.w-wht.org/homeownership-center/
In addition, The Department of Banking, Insurance, Health Care and Securities is available to assist with questions related to floor insurance at http://www.bishca.state.vt.us/insurance/insurance-consumer/vermont-flood-informationor (800) 964-1784 in state or (802) 828-3302.
In response to the storm, the ACCD is:
* Creating a Housing Task Force, headed by Jennifer Hollar, Deputy Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Economic, Housing and Community Development to work with VEM and FEMA to develop a housing recovery plan and guide its implementation.
* Working with our fellow housing agencies, Vermont Emergency Management and FEMA to identify vacant apartments that could be available for temporary housing.
* Requesting a waiver from the Treasury Department that would make vacant apartments in many federally-supported properties available to any displaced Vermonter regardless of income.
* Seeking additional housing and development resources in the form of block grants and Section 8 vouchers from HUD, in coordination with the congressional delegation.
* Establishing a Housing Task Force of state agencies and federal and local partners to work with FEMA to develop a housing recovery plan and to guide its implementation.
* Running a call-center at the Agency of Commerce to collect damage information from mobile home park and apartment owners at 802-828-3211 to provide to FEMA.
* Accompanying FEMA today as they tour impacted areas and assess housing needs. Senior ACCD officials are traveling with FEMA today.
* Reaching out to the private sector and the philanthropic community to help fill the gaps.