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Scott to prepare major disaster declaration, warns of more dangerous weather

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(The Center Square) – As more dangerous weather is headed for Vermont, Republican Gov. Phil Scott is readying a major disaster declaration.

Scott, speaking from the Agency of Transportation’s Dill Building in Berlin, said he would be preparing and submitting the major declaration to draw federal disaster relief funds to help Vermont recover from recent storms.

“It would provide federal disaster relief funds, which will be very helpful to communities in the recovery phase,” Scott said of the document. “That request will be reviewed by FEMA and then given to the president for his approval. To be clear, the disaster declaration provides federal support for recovery. It’s separate from and in addition to the Federal Emergency declaration the president already signed when he was overseas to help with the initial emergency phase.”

The veteran governor said the new declaration was “one of the reasons” it was vital to have FEMA administrators and members in the state on Wednesday surveying damage and see “the enormous needs we have as we move forward.”

With more dangerous weather slated to hit Vermont on Thursday evening and again on Sunday, Scott and state officials urged residents to be prepared and take precautions as 24 state roads remain closed, down from 81 road closures that began last Sunday.

“This isn’t over,” Scott warned residents. “And it won’t be over after the storm. On Sunday, unfortunately, there’s another chance for heavy rain statewide. I know this is hard news for many. And folks will want to think this is over as soon as the weather breaks on Saturday. But it’s critical that Vermonters understand that we need to remain vigilant and prepared. Do not be complacent. And as a reminder, be smart and use common sense. That means do not go in the water. We’ve seen many pictures on social media of kids swimming in floodwaters.”

State officials cautioned people against entering waters that could contain chemicals, oil, human refuse, and debris.

Commissioner of Public Safety Jennifer Morris said the National Guard is on standby as Vermonters prepare for more inclement weather over the next few days.

“As of now, there are no reported fatalities,” Morrison said.

Four shelters, Morrison said, are currently in operation and helping residents, including four American Red Cross shelters.

“In Barre, there are 25 people in shelter, Morrison said. “In Rutland, there are four; in White River Junction/Hartford, there are zero; and at Northern Vermont University on the Johnson campus, there are 15, where a Red Cross trailer has been deployed to support that at the university site. There are two independent shelters, and their status report is this. At the Fox Run Golf Club in Ludlow, there are six people in shelter, and at Smuggler’s Notch, there are 59. There are numerous other shelters that are on standby and prepared to open if there is a need.”

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