On December 24, 2019

Halloween wind storm causes $5M in damages

State requests FEMA assistance

Gov. Phil Scott has requested a major disaster declaration for two federal programs for storm damages throughout Vermont caused by wind, rain and flooding from Oct. 31-November 1, 2019. The request is for assistance from the public assistance program, which seeks support for municipal infrastructure repairs, and the individual assistance program, which seeks aid for private homeowners and renters.

Vermont officials have identified more than $5 million in damages to public infrastructure statewide and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has verified that Vermont has proven more than the minimum $1 million in damages to qualify for a Public Assistance declaration. Communities in Addison, Chittenden, Essex, Franklin, Lamoille, Orange, Orleans and Washington counties all showed losses of $3.84 per capita and will be included in the declaration request.

A public assistance disaster declaration allows communities in declared counties to receive 75% reimbursement from the federal government for recovery costs associated with the storm. Costs include repair work on public roads and buildings, tree and debris removal from public rights of way, municipal employee time spent working on recovery, contractor help, equipment rentals and other storm-related expenses.

“This was a significant storm on a scale we have not seen for some time and it left a number of small towns with large bills for recovery,” said Scott. “The cost to repair roads and other public infrastructure will severely impact some municipal road budgets so this federal assistance is critical to our efforts.”

Scott has also requested individual assistance (IA) to help homeowners and renters recover from the storm. The request applies to private property in Addison, Chittenden, Franklin, Lamoille and Orleans counties.

The individual assistance program provides financial aid or direct services to private citizens who have been unable to mitigate storm damages with other means. This can include rental assistance for temporary housing, grants to repair damage not covered by insurance and needs like replacement of personal property, vehicle repair, storage or other approved expenses.

“There are several Vermonters facing economic hardships because of this storm, and as a state we are working to provide all possible avenues of relief,” said Vermont Emergency Management Director Erica Bornemann. “Receiving an IA declaration is not easy, there are many criteria to be considered when assessing the state and individuals’ ability to recover.”

The goal of the individual assistance program is to make essential living spaces safe, sanitary and habitable. Insurance and other available resources must be exhausted before aid is awarded.

It can take several weeks for decisions to be issued for disaster declaration requests. If the individual assistance program request is granted, additional FEMA on-site inspections will take place with homeowners affected by the storm.

Over 370 Vermonters have reported damage to their properties to date. These include damage to heating systems, floodwater and debris in homes and basements, washed out driveways and other damages. Vermonters with damage from the storm can still call 211 to report losses.

FEMA will review the requests and make a recommendation to President Trump, who will ultimately approve or deny the requests.

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