Vermont asks Biden to issue major disaster declaration



(The Center Square) — Vermont Gov. Phil Scott is asking President Joe Biden to issue another major disaster declaration for two counties that saw damage during August flooding.

In a request to Biden, Scott asks for a presidential declaration directing the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide more funding through its Public Assistance Program to Addison and Rutland counties for flooding-related expenses incurred during the Aug. 3 to 5 storms.

Scott said the severe storms and flooding in early August “compounded the impacts of July flooding and rainfall, overwhelming state and local resources.”

“Municipal budgets are stretched thin as towns work to recover from these additional storms, and another disaster declaration is needed to help address infrastructure damage that is not covered by the July disaster declaration,” he said in a statement.

The governor said federal officials have estimated that more than $1.2 million in costs incurred by public entities in Addison and Rutland counties could be eligible for reimbursement if a disaster declaration is issued.

The move would allow cities and towns to be reimbursed for up to 75% of the local funds spent on expenses ranging from debris removal, roadway repairs and staff overtime related to the flooding response, the governor’s office said.

Scott’s request also calls for funding from the federal Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, which can reimburse the state and local governments for up to 75% of the cost for projects that reduce the likelihood of damage to roads and other public infrastructure in the future.

If approved, the declaration would be the second related to heavy rains this summer that caused devastating floods in July and August, which submerged thousands of acres of Vermont farmland, causing millions of dollars of damage to crops.

Earlier this month, Biden approved a major disaster declaration in the state’s 14 counties, clearing the way for affected farmers to apply for low-interest federal loans and other assistance.

Vermont has distributed $1 million to farmers out of its $20 million flood emergency grant program for businesses, according to the Scott administration. It has also made $20 million in grants available to businesses trying to rebuild. The grants are capped at $20,000 each, according to the administration.

FEMA estimates nearly 3,000 homes in Vermont sustained some type of damage in the flooding, including at least 530 designated as having significant damage and 14 other homes destroyed. The flooding also impacted the state capitol, Montpelier, damaging restaurants and other businesses.

Nearly 1,300 people have received rental assistance from the federal agency, which says it plans to bring in modular homes to provide temporary shelter for impacted residents.



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