Governor Phil Scott today announced that President Donald Trump has signed a Public Assistance 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 on Oct. 29-30, 2017.
A Preliminary Damage Assessment (PDA) 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.
Each of the 10 counties 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: line work, power pole replacement, and contractor assistance.
The 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 (VEMA) will soon announce a number of 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. VEMA, 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, floodproofing and public infrastructure upgrades for roads, bridges and culverts in vulnerable locations.