(NECN: Jack Thurston, Moretown, VT) - Across Vermont, hammers, saws, and other tools are producing the sounds of determination. Hard work is underway to save private property from water damage.
"We didn't have flood insurance," sighed Howard Ferris, a homeowner in Moretown, Vermont.
Ferris's family has lived on Route 100B along the Mad River since the mid-1800s.
Sunday August 28, the Mad River really lived up to its name. When Tropical Storm Irene dumped several months worth of rain in just a couple of hours, all that water gushed over the banks, rushing across Ferris's property right toward his house. The water was raging so high, it left debris in the trees.
"All the carpet had to come up, the rug in there, the furnace, the water heater, the electrical system," Ferris listed.
But some help is now on the way from FEMA. Thirty inspectors are making house calls in counties that qualify for federal disaster aid. It's a big job. Already, more than 2,100 Vermonters have requested appointments to help them get back on their feet.
FEMA grants range from a couple hundred or a couple thousand dollars up to a maximum of $30,200. While as of Wednesday afternoon, FEMA officials in Vermont have okayed $4.1-million in aid, including 41 maximum grants, the funds are likely not enough to pay for many victims' immense repairs.
"But it will provide a bridge," said FEMA spokeswoman Deanna Frazier. "A step in the right direction toward getting that family back to their pre-disaster status."
Howard Ferris is trying to hang onto his good attitude. His home made it through the great flood of 1927 and the Hurricane of 1938. He's confident he'll conquer Irene too.
"We live here," he said. "Where are we going?"
That pluckiness is keeping FEMA busy as it works to give Vermont the leg up it badly needs. Vermonters who suffered damage to their homes can call 1-800-621-FEMA to register for an inspection that could result in a cash grant.
Affected businesses can call the VT Agency of Commerce and Community Development at 802-828-3211.
Farmers can contact the VT Economic Development Authority for help, at 802-828-5627.