By Curt Peterson
Acting Hartland Town Manager Martin Dole told the select board Wednesday evening the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is not going to include Hartland’s July 21 flooding with its latest emergency declaration.
“FEMA declares a state emergency when damages from an event exceed $ million” Dole said. “Towns that incurred damage because of July 17 flooding will be included in FEMA recovery funding for that reason. But Hartland survived that event relatively unscathed. Our damage occurred four days later – July 21. We are on our own.”
Rutland and Middlebury also suffered severe flooding damage on other subsequent dates, and are having to fund their own repairs.
Dole told the Mountain Times Hartland has already paid out $133,000, but the grand total cost of the July 21 storm may possibly reach $300,000. Outside contractors are now working on the repairs, and the town highway crew has gotten back to regular road maintenance.
If FEMA isn’t helping the town, from where will the money come?
Dole said the invoices incurred will be paid from the regular highway fund, which will result in a year-end deficit that can’t be “carried over” to the next year.
“The cash is there to pay the invoices,” Dole said, “so they will not go unpaid. The highway fund account will be replenished from the highway reserve fund, which has plenty to cover them.”
The good news: a VTrans representative told Dole the state will “probably” provide funds to help towns with the isolated flooding events not covered by FEMA.
“They won’t be paying 100% of the cost,” Dole said. “State funding is usually on a percentage basis, often 80% of the total, with the town coming up with the remaining 20%.”
In this case, he said, due to the unexpected draw on state funds, the towns’ contributions may be more like 30 to 40%, with the state funding the balance.