Montpelier, Vt. - Governor Phil Scott has made a formal request for federal disaster funds to assist communities and public utilities recover costs for repairs and power restoration following the December 22-24, 2022, winter storm. The request seeks a federal eligibility for entities in Caledonia, Chittenden, Essex, Franklin, Grand Isle, Lamoille, Orange, Orleans, and Washington counties.
“This storm impacted tens of thousands of Vermonters during the Christmas holiday weekend,” said Governor Scott. “It also created a large financial gap for public utilities, and by extension taxpayers. Restoration costs for some of these utilities were two or three times their annual maintenance budget, which is a deficit that will not be easily erased without further financial hardship for many Vermonters.”
If granted, a federal Major Disaster Declaration unlocks Federal Emergency Management Agency Public Assistance Program funding to reimburse municipal and non-profit utilities for 75% of eligible restoration costs. A declaration could also provide payment to municipalities for 75% of funds already spent on things like debris removal, road repairs, and staff overtime cleaning up after the storm.
Federal assessors identified nearly $3 million in program eligible costs incurred by public and non-profit utilities and communities in recovering from the storm, far exceeding the minimum threshold of $1.14 million in damages for Vermont to request a major disaster declaration. The counties included in the request incurred public infrastructure damages and recovery costs near or exceeding the $4.44 per capita threshold to qualify.
“The verified amounts statewide and in each county are only a partial accounting, total damage costs are much higher,” Vermont Emergency Management Director Erica Bornemann said. “The state and federal government verified enough damage to qualify for a declaration; from experience in previous similar disasters, we know costs incurred are often higher and Vermonters need the help.”
The request was sent to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which will review and then send to President Biden for a final decision.