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Price of flood damage in Vt. crosses threshold for more federal reimbursement

 A photo of water flooding underneath a bridge. Cars and an orange truck and a person in a safety vest are visible in the distance.
Peter Hirschfeld
Vermont Public
Water floods the intersection of Route 2 and Sunny Brook Road in Middlesex on Monday, July 10.

State officials say the price tag tied to damage to public infrastructure from July's historic floods has passed a significant threshold. This means the federal government will pick up a bigger share of the tab for recovery projects.

If the total amount of damage to state buildings, roads and town projects is less than $111 million, the state would be responsible for paying a quarter of the cost for repairs.

But if the costs exceed this threshold, then the state's share of recovery costs drop to 10%.

Vermont's Chief Recovery Officer Doug Farnham says there's no question Vermont will qualify for the lower rate.

"The 90% threshold should be easy to cross, however, it won't be crossed officially for a little bit more time because it relies on the obligation with FEMA, and that's a process that we have to go through still," Farnham says.

The official FEMA declaration could be a weeks-long process. But state officials are confident based off of the initial estimates.

FEMA's chief Vermont official, Will Roy, says the state has already qualified for the lower cap, even excluding a handful of major transportation projects.

"Right now our current estimates based on the damages we've received from our applicants is around $120 million, but it's early — we continue to work with AOT — one of the largest applicants we have," Roy says.

Officials also say they're pleased that a new congressional budget compromise includes an additional $6 billion for FEMA's disaster response budget.

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Bob Kinzel has been covering the Vermont Statehouse since 1981 — longer than any continuously serving member of the Legislature. With his wealth of institutional knowledge, he answers your questions on our series, "Ask Bob."
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