VERMONT REQUESTS FEDERAL DISASTER DECLARATION
Montpelier, Vt. – Governor Phil Scott has made a formal request for federal disaster funds to assist communities and public utilities in five Vermont counties in paying for repairs to public infrastructure damaged in wind and rainstorms on May 4 and 5. Communities and public utilities in Chittenden, Grand Isle, Lamoille, Orange, and Orleans counties sustained damages that meet or exceed minimum thresholds to be eligible for a Public Assistance disaster declaration. There were additional damages in Franklin County that FEMA is still assessing in order to determine whether that county is eligible.
“Several Vermont communities have been left with hefty bills to pay after repairing public infrastructure damage and removing debris from rights of way,” Scott said. “These costs will be felt by many for a long time without federal aid.”
A Preliminary Damage Assessment (PDA) by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) identified $1.29 million in public infrastructure damage, exceeding the $1 million minimum Vermont must show to be considered for a disaster declaration. Chittenden, Grand Isle, Lamoille, Orange, and Orleans counties each exceeded the $3.68 per capita threshold needed to qualify communities and public utilities in those counties for assistance.
PDAs do not identify all damages sustained in an event, the assessment simply determines if there is enough damage for the state and counties to be eligible for a disaster declaration. The actual total damage from the May 4-5 storm is likely higher, and all communities in declared counties would have the opportunity to participate in the program if a disaster is declared.
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.
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 funding based on a formula of 15 percent of the total federal Public Assistance. That funding can be used to provide 75 percent reimbursement for projects anywhere in the state that reduce the likelihood of damages to public infrastructure in future disasters.