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Vermont to use new website to help statewide recovery efforts

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(The Center Square) – Providing relief and recovery from last week’s storm is now underway in Vermont, state officials said.

The Scott administration and federal officials said Monday that a new website is being established that will help individuals and businesses negatively impacted by heavy rain and flooding recover from home, vehicles, financial and business losses.

Agency of Human Services Secretary Jenney Samuelson said that resource centers had been established at the Ludlow Community Center and Barre Auditorium that are open and assist people with temporary housing, food and primary medical treatment. The sites, open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., will have professionals on hand who will help residents navigate available services.

“The resource centers serve as a one-stop location where the public and private organizations can come together to provide assistance to those who’ve been affected by the disasters,” Samuelson said.

The centers, Samuelson said, will transition to Johnson Elementary School through Wednesday, Woodstock at the Union High School on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and then Londonderry at the Neighborhoods Connections those same days. Centers will then move to Harwick and other locations later in the week.

In addition, Samuelson said, families who had homes destroyed would qualify for the Department of Children and Family’s general assistance program for a hotel stay for up to 84 days. Residents will also be able to use food shelves throughout the state. Plus, if baby formula and other items were lost, the Women, Infants & Children program will replace the items at no cost.

Vermont Department of Labor Commissioner Michael Harrington said unemployment would be made available to residents out of work due to business closures throughout the recovery process. Out-of-work residents are urged to file an unemployment claim right away.

Harrington said an online portal is being established to assist residents in filing their claims.

“We will have a forward-facing application that they can file an initial claim through, and the difference between today and Wednesday will not change the timeliness,” Harrington said. “They’re not at risk if they wait until Wednesday to open their claim.”

The Federal Emergency Management Agency said individuals or households could use the organization’s grant program to support uninsured or underinsured losses due to the storms. In addition, the assistance can be applied to home repairs, rent, support for displaced people while repairs are being made to a home, and disaster-related expenses for medical, dental, funeral, and moving and storage needs, FEMA Individual Assistance Branch Director Chelsey Smith said.

The Small Business Administration will also assist Vermont businesses through loans for up to $40,000 for lost property, including vehicles, and up to $200,000 for real estate damage, Small Business Administration Public Information Officer Carl Dombek said.

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