Vermont Public is independent, community-supported media, serving Vermont with trusted, relevant and essential information. We share stories that bring people together, from every corner of our region. New to Vermont Public? Start here.

© 2024 Vermont Public | 365 Troy Ave. Colchester, VT 05446

Public Files:

For assistance accessing our public files, please contact or call 802-655-9451.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Key takeaways from flood 'town meeting' with Scott, Sanders, Welch and Balint

Vermont's top elected officials fielded questions Wednesday evening about recovering from this month's devastating floods.

The telephone town meeting, which was also livestreamed on Facebook, featured Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sen. Peter Welch, Rep. Becca Balint, and Gov. Phil Scott. Other officials spoke about specific program details.

“It’s going to take all of us pulling in the same direction to see this through," said Gov. Phil Scott. "Just like Irene and the pandemic, we’ve seen Vermonters stepping up, neighbors helping neighbors, donating to recovery funds and so much more. This is the Vermont way, and it’s why I know we’ll get through this and once again show why we’re Vermont strong — and tough, too.”

Below are key takeaways from the discussion.

FEMA payouts so far

As of Tuesday evening, 3,074 Vermonters had applied for individual assistance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said FEMA coordinating officer William Roy.

The federal government has approved $4.7 million in payouts, including $4.2 million already in people's bank accounts, Roy said. Eight people have received the maximum grant of $41,000.

More from Vermont Public and VTDigger: A guide to the FEMA aid process for flooded Vermont homes

 A photo of a flooded town.
Town of Coventry
Coventry is among the Vermont towns to experience historic flooding this month.

The status of Orleans County

Orleans County has been added to the list of disaster areas where residents are eligible for individual assistance. Nine counties are now eligible.

State: Insurance companies cannot raise rates as a result of floods

A caller asked if there's a way to get FEMA assistance without also going through insurance, since they were afraid that the insurance company would raise their rates due to a claim.

Filing with insurance is part of the process, and you should do it, said Vermont Financial Regulation Commissioner Kevin Gaffney.

“They cannot rate, rerate, cancel your policy due to the events of this storm," Gaffney said. The Vermont Department of Financial Regulation alerted the insurance industry of that position shortly after the flooding began.

The inside of a bookstore is largely gutted
Bob Kinzel
Vermont Public
An interior view of Bear Pond Books on Thursday, July 20.

More details coming Thursday about state business grant program

The governor promised to share details about the planned $20 million Business Emergency Gap Assistance Program at Thursday's press conference. The program will help businesses and nonprofits with damage to their physical space and loss of inventory, equipment and supplies.

State officials announced the program last week but have not yet provided details about how it would work.

“We scraped together, somewhat robbing Peter to pay Paul, and put together $20 million for this effort,” Scott said on the town meeting phone call. “And I just want to level set expectations here: It’s not enough.”

USDA program can help relocate renters, rebuild homes of low-income Vermonters

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development program is helping income-eligible Vermonters now and will also help communities with needs like wastewater in the long term, said State Director Sarah Waring.

Waring pointed out three groups of people who can benefit from their programs now: Renters, very low-income homeowners, and homeowners who have USDA mortgages.

"If you are a renter and you’ve been displaced, you may be eligible to move into a government-subsidized multi-family housing facility that has vacancies," Waring said. "Some of these are in Vermont, and there are a lot in other states. Our teams can help you find that place and get you connected to that landlord or property manager."

Very low-income homeowners who suffered flooding damage may qualify for grants of up to $40,675 to help with home repairs, Waring said. This is money that comes after any insurance and FEMA benefits.

Current homeowners with USDA mortgages can get flexibility for their payment schedules.

To reach the USDA Rural Development program, call the New Hampshire office at 603-223-6035. (The program's Montpelier office has been flooded.) You can also email or visit a FEMA recovery center to talk to someone in person.

Helpful phone numbers and links

  • To report flood damage to Vermont officials, call 2-1-1 or visit
  • To apply for assistance through FEMA, visit, call 800-621-3362, or for in-person help, visit a FEMA recovery center.
  • To reach the U.S. Small Business Administration, which can provide help to many groups (not just businesses) in the form of low-interest loans, call the local office at 802-828-4422 or visit
  • To reach the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development program, call the New Hampshire office at 603-223-6035. (The program's Montpelier office has been flooded.) You can also email or visit a FEMA recovery center to talk to someone in person.
  • To reach the USDA Farm Service Agency, call 802-658-2803.
  • If you are experiencing emotional distress, call or text the Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990, or contact the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988.

Have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message.

Updated: July 27, 2023 at 9:41 AM EDT
This article was updated Thursday morning to reflect the inclusion of Orleans County in the federal major disaster declaration for individual assistance.
Latest Stories