Vermont requests federal disaster declaration to address May storms

Gov. Phil Scott has made a formal request for federal disaster funds to assist communities and public utilities in five Vermont counties – including Chittenden County – in paying for repairs to public infrastructure damaged in wind and rainstorms on May 4 and 5.

Communities and public utilities in Chittenden, Grand Isle, Lamoille, Orange, and Orleans counties sustained damages that meet or exceed minimum thresholds to be eligible for a Public Assistance disaster declaration.

“Several Vermont communities have been left with hefty bills to pay after repairing public infrastructure damage and removing debris from rights of way,” Scott said. “These costs will be felt by many for a long time without federal aid.”

Locally, Shelburne was hit hard by the early May storms. Interim Town Manager Lee Krohn said town officials estimated about $40,000 worth of damage to public property, due to of fallen trees and the resulting expenses from emergency response services.

A Preliminary Damage Assessment by the Federal Emergency Management Agency identified $1.29 million in public infrastructure damage, exceeding the $1 million minimum Vermont must show to be considered for a disaster declaration.

Chittenden, Grand Isle, Lamoille, Orange, and Orleans counties each exceeded the $3.68 per capita threshold needed to qualify communities and public utilities in those counties for assistance.

The actual total figure from the May 4-5 storm damage is likely higher, and if a disaster is declared, all communities in declared counties would have the opportunity to participate in the program.

A declaration would allow communities in declared counties to receive 75 percent reimbursement for storm response and recovery. Those costs include repairs to public roads, bridges, and other infrastructure damaged during the storm.

Scott’s request went to FEMA for review and would need presidential approval to go into effect.

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