FEMA says Vermonters with flooding damage from July 18-21 are now eligible for assistance
FEMA announced today that flood-related damages that occurred between July 18 and July 21 are now eligible for federal assistance.
Vermont saw the bulk of this summer's catastrophic flooding the week of July 10 — but another big storm hit the state later that month. And FEMA now says damage from that second round of flooding will also be part of the federal disaster declaration.
Doug Farnham, chief flood recovery officer for the state, says the extension may result in financial assistance for residents who were previously denied.
“If they got a denial letter from FEMA because they cited the damage as occurring between the 18th and the 21st, then if they got a denial letter based on the timing, then they should reapply to FEMA," Farnham said.
And the state wants FEMA to extend the disaster period even longer: Vermont is asking the federal government to recognize all damage from July 10 through Aug. 5 as a single disaster event.
Farnham says this is mainly to minimize the hassle for small towns that aren’t accustomed to federal bureaucracies.
“And if we could get that single, longer incident period, it would just take some of the confusion and frustration out of it, right?" he said.
If FEMA doesn’t extend the window, Farnham says the state is confident it can secure a second major disaster declaration for damage that occurred between Aug. 3 and Aug. 5.
Lawmakers approve additional payments to Vermont flood survivors
Meanwhile at the state level, Vermont lawmakers have signed off on allowing the state to provide additional funds in response to flood damages.
FEMA generally provides up to $41,000 to homeowners whose residences are destroyed by a disaster. But in the case of mobile homes, Deputy Commissioner of Housing Alex Farrell says the federal agency only covers the estimated cost of repairs.
“That’s falling for almost all of these households far short of the maximum $41,000 award, and so folks are being left in the lurch," Farrell said.
The Scott administration wants to use a surplus in a property tax credit program to fund direct payments to the 47 Vermonters whose mobile homes were condemned as a result of the floods.
A legislative panel approved that proposal today, which will provide about $1.5 million for flood survivors. The state will pay for the removal and disposal of the condemned mobile homes, too.
The legislative panel also greenlit the Scott administration's request to increase the size of grants going out to flood-hit businesses.
Secretary of Commerce Lindsay Kurrle told lawmakers Thursday that the $20,000 maximum award hasn’t been enough to cover flood-related losses for most businesses.
“We’ve been assessing the need, and we feel that a shift in the program at this point will deliver more value to the businesses who need it," Kurrle said.
Lawmakers gave their go-ahead to remove the $20,000 cap. Businesses will now be eligible for awards of up to 30% of their total net flood-related damages.
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