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Vermont asks feds for preliminary damage assessment for December floods

A road closed sign sits on a road in front of standing flood water. In the background, cars sit in the water.
Sophie Stephens
Vermont Public
Route 100 in Waterbury was closed Monday, Dec. 18, 2023 due to floodwaters covering the road.

Vermont Emergency Management today sent a request to the federal government for an initial damage assessment following widespread flooding December 18-19. It's a step that could lead to a disaster declaration, which unlocks additional federal recovery funds.

During last week's storm, most parts of the state received between 2-4 inches of rain, although parts of southern Vermont recorded nearly 5 inches of precipitation. On top of the wet weather, warm temperatures melted snow from Vermont's mountains creating swollen rivers and streams. Five rivers reached major or moderate flood stage, according to the National Weather Service.

MAP: Here's where the December 2023 river flooding, rainfall hit hardest in Vermont

The state's request calls on federal officials to assess storm damage in six counties — Addison, Essex, Orange, Orleans, Rutland and Windsor. The request is the first step toward a possible federal disaster declaration.

If granted, the declaration would unlock funding to help communities repair damage to public infrastructure, like public roads and buildings. If approved, 75% of the costs of repairs could be covered by federal funds. That share could also be higher, said Eric Forand, director of Vermont Emergency Management.

The state could ask for assessments of other counties later, according to Forand.

"We're still trying to collect cost estimates if there are any, but they weren't that close to their threshold so we did not include them," Forand said during an interview on Friday.

Vermont needs about $1.1 million in storm related costs to qualify for a major disaster declaration. For individual counties to qualify, they need to show a certain level of damage based on their population — $4.60 per capita.

The agency says the assessments are expected to begin early next month.

Have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message or contact reporter Liam Elder-Connors:


Corrected: January 2, 2024 at 9:57 AM EST
This post and its headline have been updated to correct that Vermont requested a preliminary damage assessment from the federal government, not a disaster declaration.
Liam is Vermont Public’s public safety reporter, focusing on law enforcement, courts and the prison system.
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