By Curt Peterson
On June 1 the Killington Select Board unanimously approved reimbursing the Vermont Agency of Transportation for $51,753, costs of repairing a stream crossing on Stage Road damaged by Tropical Storm Irene Aug. 28, 2011, almost 10 years ago.
The payment is part of the amount Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) originally paid to replace a culvert that was blown out in the storm and subsequent flooding that wiped out several sections of Route 4, and left Killington isolated for about two weeks.
Then-president Barack Obama declared a federal emergency following Irene, the ninth named storm that season, and the worst storm in Vermont since 1927. Final damage estimates for bridges and roads in the state totalled more than $700 million.
When the town approached VTrans for FEMA funds to replace the culvert, the state determined the culvert had to be replaced with a bridge at greater cost.
FEMA was only willing to pay to replace what was there before the storm, but not to cover the increased cost of the bridge required by the state.
A long battle ensued, but Killington failed to persevere in any of its multiple appeals of the FEMA decision, hence the additional payment approved June 1.
“This is the end of the Irene matter with FEMA,” Selectman Jim Haff said. “It’s the final Irene close-out.”
He said the town had nothing to complain about — it received more than $3.1 million for road repairs, much of which it would have eventually been needed, so paying back a portion wasn’t significant in the big picture.
Haff told the Mountain Times the payment will be made during FY2022 and will be absorbed in the voter-approved general funds budget.