VERMONT REQUESTS FEDERAL DISASTER DECLARATION
Governor Phil Scott has made a request for federal disaster funds to assist communities and public utilities in 10 Vermont counties in paying for repairs to public infrastructure damaged in wind and rain storms on October 29 and 30. Communities and public utilities that operate in Addison, Chittenden, Essex, Franklin, Grand Isle, Lamoille, Orange, Orleans, Washington, and Windham counties sustained damages that meet or exceed minimum thresholds to be eligible for a Public Assistance disaster declaration.
“Damage to the state’s power grid was extensive in the storm and several communities spent days clearing debris from public rights of way,” said Governor Scott. “The bill for that work will be considerable, and in many cases cut significantly into annual public works budgets. This storm has clearly placed a financial burden on towns and electric co-ops, and a federal disaster declaration is undoubtedly warranted.”
A Preliminary Damage Assessment (PDA) by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) identified $3.7 million in public infrastructure damage, far exceeding the $1 million minimum Vermont must show to be considered for a disaster declaration. Addison, Chittenden, Essex, Franklin, Grand Isle, Lamoille, Orange, Orleans, Washington, and Windham counties each exceeded the $3.68 per capita threshold needed to qualify communities and public utilities in those counties for assistance.
A Public Assistance disaster declaration, if granted, would allow communities in declared counties to receive 75 percent reimbursement for storm response and recovery. Those costs include repairs to public roads, bridges, and other infrastructure that was damaged during the storm.
A PDA verifies enough damage to demonstrate that the county thresholds have been met, but does not necessarily capture all damages. All communities in declared counties would have the opportunity to participate in the program if a disaster is declared.
Governor Scott’s request was sent to FEMA for review. FEMA will send a recommendation to President Donald Trump, who has ultimate authority to approve or reject the request.
The declaration request also seeks funds from the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP). The federal HMGP program provides 75 percent reimbursement for projects anywhere in the state that reduce the likelihood of damages to public infrastructure in future disasters.
“We appreciate the work of our state, local and federal partners, including FEMA, in assessing recent damage,” added Governor Scott.