State News

Feds award over $1 million in aid for winter storm repairs

State and federal officials announced May 27 that more than $1 million in FEMA aid has been delivered to the state to help cover the costs of the Dec. 9-12, 2014, winter storm that wreaked havoc on Vermont’s infrastructure, downing trees and power lines.

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the aid package to the state thus far for infrastructure repair includes roughly $670,000 for emergency protective measures to safeguard lives and property while responding to the disaster, and another $384,000 in permanent repair work. Another $2 million in FEMA aid is anticipated, most of it for Vermont Electric Cooperative.

“The December storm was a four-day event that caused an estimated $4-plus million in damage and response costs,” said State Coordinating Officer Robert Schell with Vermont’s Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security. “The federal dollars coming to Vermont are assisting numerous communities and non-profit utilities.”

Governor Peter Shumlin requested preliminary damage assessments in the ten most heavily damaged Vermont counties immediately after the storm and sent the assessments to FEMA with a request for a federal disaster declaration.

President Barack Obama approved the request in early February, and FEMA and state disaster teams began meeting with jurisdictions to explain how federal dollars flow to the state and on to eligible municipalities and non-profit entities.

“We will continue to support our state and local partners to ensure that applicants receive all of the assistance for which they are eligible,” said Federal Coordinating Officer James N. Russo, the head of FEMA’s recovery operations in Vermont.

FEMA’s Public Assistance Program provides state and local governments and eligible private non-profit organizations in designated counties federal funds to pay 75 percent of the approved cost of debris removal, emergency services related to the disaster, and repairs to or replacement of damaged public facilities such as roads, buildings and utilities.

Both FEMA and the state, which distributes the FEMA funds to municipalities and qualified non-profits, must review public assistance projects to ensure compliance with regulations.

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