FEMA, state working on recovery efforts in Vermont



(The Center Square) –Residents are urged to report any damage to the state and the Farm Service Agency as Vermont recovers from major flooding that began on July 9.

Federal and state officials on Tuesday morning said recovery efforts remain in place as assessments are being conducted on cities and towns, farms, and property across the state that was negatively impacted by flood waters.

General William Roy, who serves as director of the Response Operations Division of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said 14 teams totaling 450 personnel are in Vermont going door-to-door to assist residents in signing up for assistance from the federal agency and urging them to call 211.

“We have established seven mobile registration centers across the state and the eight (emergency) declared counties to help people sign up,” Roy said from the Agency of Transportation’s Dill Building in Berlin. “We have personnel in the state multi-agency resource centers who can assist residents in signing up for assistance. And we have established two disaster recovery centers, one in Rutland and one in Waterbury, where people can go to sign up for assistance and also receive help if they’re having trouble with their applications.”

Roy said FEMA had provided bottled water for the state to distribute and bulk water for communities where flood waters have disrupted water systems.

“As of today, we have visited over 6,000 homes and 330 businesses,” Roy said. “We’ve approved $4.2 million in funding for residents impacted by the storm. We’ve inspected over 1,000 homes for damages, and we’ve provided rental assistance for over 350 people.”

Agency of Transportation Secretary Joe Flynn said that as of Tuesday, $35.2 million had been spent repairing roadways and rail lines. Seven roads encompassing 12 miles remain closed.

“To date, 129 roads have reopened since the storm began,” Flynn said. “We currently have three bridges, as I mentioned, that need temporary structures. They are Vershire, Chelsea and Jamaica. We have conducted 475 bridge inspections across the state of Vermont, both on state bridges and town bridges. Forty-six were done yesterday, and 296 of these inspections produce what we call findings. A finding means that we will have to go back at some point to do some follow-up work, but that does not mean that the bridge is compromised or that it is unsafe.”

Flynn urged residents needing services from the Department of Motor Vehicles to do so online.

Jennifer Morrison, the Department of Public Safety commissioner, said the State Emergency Operations Center had rescued 211 individuals and 20 animals and evacuated another 127 people using the urban search and rescue teams. In addition, she said there were 74 hazardous material team responses in the early phases of the storm.

“As we shifted to recovery efforts, the SEOC remained busy servicing requests for information and resources from our municipal partners,” Morrison said. “A few examples of the type of assistance provided include providing large shipments of bottled water to 31 towns, providing dehumidifiers and fans to 25 of our hardest-hit towns, and providing (personal protective equipment) to municipalities and relief organizations.”

Morrison said the department is also working with dam and geological engineers as part of the recovery efforts.

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