Scott administration says flood recovery still 'all hands on deck'
Nine days after severe flooding first hit Vermont, officials with the Scott administration are urging Vermonters to keep up the good work, and to care for themselves.
"It's clear we still have a lot of work to do," Gov. Phil Scott said during a press conference Wednesday. “Vermonters continue to inspire me with their resilience and can-do attitude."
Public Safety Commissioner Jennifer Morrison said the state has begun to demobilize out-of-state rescue teams, and that no rescues had to be made last night.
To date, she added, "211 people were rescued from homes, vehicles, trees, the top of a car carrier, a floating hot tub wedged on a tree, and a floating dumpster. These rescues were conducted by boats or by rescuers walking through deep water. An additional 127 evacuations were conducted in the first two days of the flooding, and 18 animals were transported or rescued from homes and vehicles."
Morrison reminded Vermonters that deaths and injuries often happen after the initial disaster, and to be careful cleaning up.
She did, however, emphasize the need to continue volunteer efforts across the state.
"Right now we need all hands on deck," Morrison said. "Clean and dry is the rallying cry of the day."
In addition to addressing the physical damage caused by the past week's flooding, Mental Health Commissioner Emily Hawes said Vermonters need to attend to the less-visible impacts.
"The toll this has taken on our neighbors whose lives have been upended, on our brave emergency and essential workers and volunteers dedicating their time to piecing our communities back together — as we come together to rebuild what was damaged and lost, I want to emphasize the importance of prioritizing the well-being of our communities," Hawes said. "This means addressing the crucial impact of natural disasters on our mental health."
She shared the following tips:
- Focus on consuming news and information from credible sources.
- Try to maintain a routine, including resting, moving and fueling with good food and water.
- Reach out to loved ones and people you trust.
- If you have strong feelings that linger, consider contacting mental health resources.
- 988 is available when you or your loved ones are experiencing distress, including but not limited to thoughts of suicide.
Other key takeaways from the press conference:
- The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has finished on-the-ground inspections. FEMA federal coordinating officer William Roy said Wednesday that 331 personnel are on the ground in Vermont, and they've visited 1,980 homes and 144 businesses. Mobile registration intake centers are set up in Waterbury, Wardsboro, Ludlow and Springfield, and so far, around 1,644 people are already signed up for assistance. Roy said money started showing up in people's bank accounts on Monday.
- Counties still undeclared as eligible for FEMA assistance are being assessed. Roy said even if a county was largely spared by flooding but has hard-hit areas, they could still be eligible. The main criteria, he said, is whether homes were either destroyed or sustained major damage. "We can never say when, but I believe that in a very short period of time, we'll hear about the potential for additional add-on counties," Roy said.
- Continue to keep an eye out for scammers. If someone comes to your door but doesn't have FEMA identification, William Roy says not to trust them.
- The Scott administration is asking Congress to help business owners. Currently the federal funds available to them comes from the Small Business Administration, in the form of loans with a 4% interest rate. Gov. Phil Scott says he's asked Vermont's congressional delegation to help get more resources.
- Some towns are still without clean drinking water. State officials said 10 municipalities are under boil water notices, and one has a "do not drink" notice. Also, three water treatment plants are still not functional: Hardwick, Johnson and Ludlow.
- Avoid swimming in Vermont's waterways. Morrison, the public safety commissioner, said there are still a lot of debris and unusually strong currents, and that "it's not business as usual yet."
- Have an electrician inspect your flooded home before turning the power on. Morrison says there's also Division of Fire Safety "rapid assessment teams" looking at homes to prevent "accidental electrocution, explosions and to identify structural integrity issues." So far this week, she says the teams have inspected 750 homes.
- The deadline for sales, rooms and meals and payroll withholding taxes is extended until Nov. 15. The Scott administration says this is for those impacted by flooding, and that more announcements will be made on Friday.
Flooding recovery assistance and other key resources
- 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.