Live updates: Vermont takes stock of flooding damage, volunteers rally for a long recovery
Vermont communities are weathering continued storms and some additional flooding, even as they clean up from last week's major floods. Find the latest updates from Vermont Public below.
Key resources on flood safety, cleanup, federal assistance and more
- To apply for federal financial assistance, visit disasterassistance.gov or call 1-800-621-3362.
- Is your community under a boil-water notice? Find a statewide list here.
- For state road closure information, visit newengland511.org or @511VT on Twitter. To check the status of your town's local roads, consult your town website or social media.
- School activities and child care program closures are collected here.
- Find the latest forecasts and water levels for specific rivers from the National Weather Service.
- Are you returning to flooded property? Get tips on what to expect and how to stay safe while cleaning your home or car and how to deal with trash and debris.
- Here are tips for avoiding scams that can crop up after a disaster.
- Flood safety tips have been translated into 16 languages here.
- The Vermont Professionals of Color Network is connecting BIPOC Vermonters with recovery assistance.
- Business owners can find tips and resources from Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility.
- To find more resources, visit vermont.gov/flood, vermont211.org or call Vermont 2-1-1.
- You can also report flood damage to 2-1-1 to help the state gather data, according to Vermont Emergency Management. (If you are a homeowner, you should also contact your insurance company.)
- The Vermont Agency of Agriculture has provided a resource page for farmers.
- Find the latest guidance about how to help with recovery.
Governor's order allows out-of-state professionals to help in Vermont
An emergency order issued today by Gov. Phil Scott will allow for greater flexibility for some out-of-state workers coming to help with flood relief.
Specifically, the order allows some workers in professions that would typically require a state license to help in Vermont without getting licensed here.
That includes architects, engineers, property inspectors, residential contractors, and well and wastewater designers.
The governor said these workers would still require a valid license from another state or other U.S. jurisdiction.
The order also allows pharmacists to extend prescriptions for up to a 30-day supply for drugs needed to treat chronic conditions.
Grants available for Vermont businesses
A nonprofit in Washington County will be administering a statewide flood recovery fund for independently owned businesses.
Sue Minter, executive director of Capstone Community Action, says many business owners will need philanthropic help to resume operations.
“Many people will get support from FEMA and insurance," Minter said. "Many people will have their own ability to recover. But far more will not.”
Minter says the Vermont Main Street Flood Recovery Fund has already raised nearly $200,000.
Businesses affected by the flood can apply immediately for grants of up to $2,500 dollars. Businesses will be eligible for a total of up to $10,000 in future rounds of grants.
State examines dams for damage
State officials say three state-owned dams that control flows into the Winooski River performed as designed during last week's floods.
That includes the Waterbury Dam, the East Barre dam and the Wrightsville Dam — the last of which sits upstream of Montpelier.
Vermont's dam safety program is working to inventory any potential damage to state- and privately owned dams, says Neil Kamman, the state water investment division director. And engineers from neighboring states are helping them do the work.
"We're out there documenting damage right now," Kamman said, "identifying where emergency, you know, repairs may need to happen on municipal or privately-owned dams or state-owned dams."
Kamman says they'll start with the dams that have the most potential to affect life and property below — and where they have the least information on condition.
Vermont owns and operates 14 dams and is responsible for regulating many more.
The state is asking dam owners to contact the Agency of Natural Resources' Dam Safety Program for a free inspection.
Here's how Vermont farmers facing flood damage can get help
A lot of federal loans that are available for other businesses in the wake of flooding are not applicable for crop losses.
“That's not something that we can deal with,” said Carl Dombek at the U.S. Small Business Administration Monday during a press conference. “If a farmer had damage to his home or his personal property, we could certainly look at that.”
Right now officials are urging farmers to document their losses through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farm Service Agency.
"Reporting damage is the number one step, and the sooner the better," said John Roberts with the USDA.
As of Monday, agricultural producers reported damage to 7,000 acres of Vermont farmland.
By Tuesday afternoon, the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture had not yet issued a disaster designation for Vermont.
“As soon as the declaration is approved, if it's approved, by the Secretary down in Washington, that will start to free up more resources for our farm community,” said Vermont Agriculture Secretary Anson Tebbetts. He added that will include emergency funds.
In the meantime, many farmers say they've gotten help from their neighbors, whether through clean-up, prepared meals, mechanics looking at tractors, GoFundMe donations or moral support.
"In times of climate emergency, what we're gonna have is our community," said Grace Oedel, executive director for the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont, on Vermont Edition Tuesday. "And what I'm finding right now is that is what we have, who is showing up, what is available immediately — our community. You know, community funds, community resources, neighbors are checking on each other and keeping each other safe, first and foremost."
Here are the resources currently available for Vermont farmers:
- NOFA-VT Farmer Emergency Fund (grants up to $5,000)
- Intervale Center Recovery Fund (clean-up and recovery funds for Intervale Center and farms)
- Vermont Farm Fund at the Center for an Agricultural Economy (0% interest loan funds)
- FarmFirst (mental health and other resources for farmers)
- Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets(resource page)
- Free soil testing (from UVM Extension, through August 15)
Some applicable USDA programs accessible through the FSA:
- Emergency Conservation Program (cost-share payments)
- Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (risk coverage program)
- USDA Livestock Indemnity Program (payments for excessive livestock loss)
- USDA Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey Bees, and Farm-raised Fish (payments for loses due to adverse weather events)
Rep. Becca Balint concerned about Vermonters being passed over for financial help
U.S. Rep. Becca Balint is concerned about Vermonters who are going to fall in "doughnut holes" of funding during the state's flood recovery, she told Vermont Public's Bob Kinzel in an interview Monday.
"I'm really very concerned about folks in the mobile home parks who already didn't have any insurance on their mobile homes because they were too old to get insurance, let alone flood insurance," Balint said.
"And a lot of our small businesses that are really the backbone of these communities — some of them don't know how they're going to come back from it," Balint continued.
Watch the full interview below:
In Coventry, more flooding Sunday night means more repairs
The town of Coventry is beginning the long process of recovery from historic flooding.
Town administrator Matt Maxwell says the worst of it came last week, though waters rose again with the rain on Sunday.
He says homes and businesses in the village, as well as houses in outlying parts of town, have sustained serious damage.
Some roads have also had to be repaired twice now, and there’s more to do.
“We’ll be doing road repairs for awhile, and we’ll probably blow through the 2024 road budget in three months," he said.
Maxwell also happened to be among the people who had to be rescued from the initial flooding after his car got stuck last week.
"I tried to drive down Main Street on Tuesday and my car shut off and filled up with water, so I had to crawl out and somebody came and got me with a canoe," he said. "I was never in any danger, it was embarrassing more than anything ... but it didn't look as bad as it did, so I thought I could make it, but definitely could not."
He says afterwards he went home, changed his clothes and came back to work.
Maxwell on Monday was filling out forms for municipal aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
He says a FEMA representative was also in town on Saturday to assess the damage.
Orleans County is not yet on the list of counties eligible for individual aid.
Who qualifies for federal grants and loans?
Homeowners and renters in several Vermont counties are currently eligible for grants and low-interest loans from the federal government to help pay for damages that aren’t covered by insurance.
“This assistance can be for home repairs, rent support for displaced individuals while repairs are made and for other disaster-related expenses such as medical, dental, funeral, moving and storage and personal property losses,” said Chelsey Smith of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, at a press conference Monday.
Even for people who don’t own a business, the U.S. Small Business Administration is offering loans up to $40,000 for personal property losses, and up to $200,000 for personal real estate damage that’s not covered by insurance. Those loans are at about 2.5% interest, with no interest or payments for the first year of the loan.
“Basically would have a year of free money,” said Carl Dombek with the Small Business Administration. “These are direct loans from the federal government, you don't have to work through a bank,” he added.
Vermonters have until mid-September to apply for assistance. Right now, only residents in Chittenden, Lamoille, Rutland, Washington, Windham and Windsor counties qualify for most help, because those counties are under a disaster declaration. But people in other counties might soon be eligible for assistance and should continue to report damages, said Jason Gosselin from the Vermont Agency of Human Services.
“Calling Vermont 211 to report their damages is a streamlined way for us to gain an overall picture of damages in communities,” Gosselin said. If FEMA workers gather enough evidence of damage, they can amend their disaster declaration “to possibly include those counties that have not yet been declared," he explained.
For businesses, the U.S. Small Business Administration is not giving out grants, only loans. “The only time we had anything other than that was during COVID. And, of course, those pieces of legislation have since sunsetted,” Dombek said.
He said the agency can loan businesses up to $2 million in damages, with 4% interest for most businesses and just under 2.5% for nonprofits.
Businesses in counties that aren’t currently under an disaster declaration can’t get a loan for physical damage, but they are eligible for loans to cover expenses related to the economic impact of flooding — like if a road washed out, and customers couldn’t reach a storefront.
No damage to burials at Montpelier cemetery
Montpelier's Green Mount Cemetery has seen "major damage" to an entrance road, and lots of debris from last week's floods — but no signs of serious damage to burials or monuments, the cemetery commission said Monday.
The roads are reserved for employees only. Visitors are asked to walk in.
The cemetery commission said it was considering ways to improve the cemetery infrastructure to prevent future damage.
Green Mount Cemetery is located across Route 2 from the Winooski River, which overflowed into downtown Montpelier and other areas last Monday night.
Johnson 'resource center' added
A new "resource center" opened in Johnson on Monday, in addition to the centers in Barre and Ludlow that had been available over the weekend.
These multi-agency resource centers, or MARCs, are a single place to access multiple state agency and nonprofit assistance. The centers are opening for a few days and then moving around the state.
According to a press release, here's what the locations offer:
- Meals and water from the Red Cross
- Cleaning kits
- Answers to questions about recovery resources
- Mental health services
- Basic medical services
As of Monday, July 17, the locations of these multi-agency resource centers, or MARCs, are below:
- Johnson: Johnson Elementary School, 57 College Hill (open through July 19)
- Ludlow: Community Center, 37 Main St. (open through July 17)
- Barre: BOR Arena/Barre Auditorium, 16 Auditorium Hill (open through July 17)
All centers are open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., according to a press release.
Vermont Emergency Management says locations will open in Londonderry and Woodstock for Tuesday, July 18 though Thursday, July 20. Addresses are to come.
A Hardwick site will be open Wednesday, July 19 through Friday, July 21.