Gov. Phil Scott, R-Vermont, has formally requested a major disaster declaration from FEMA and the White House, aiming to obtain federal relief money for storm damage.
In mid-April, Vermont was hit by a powerful one-two punch of heavy rain and melting snow, sparking flash flooding that caused severe damage to roads, bridges, culverts, and other public infrastructure.
FEMA validated more than $2 million in public infrastructure damage in parts of Bennington, Essex, Orange, Rutland, Washington and Windsor counties.
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Ultimately, the decision to approve or deny the request for a major disaster declaration will be made by President Donald Trump, after he receives a recommendation from FEMA.
“We far exceeded the threshold,” Scott said Thursday. “I believe that we will receive the funding. But you never know in this day in age; we’re just doing what we can, but I have confidence.”
Bethel town manager Greg Maggard welcomed news of the disaster declaration request. He said his community, which was among those hard-hit in last month’s flooding, is eager to put road repair work out to bid.
Maggard told necn Bethel has taken out a loan to get its recovery work going. He’s hoping the 75 percent federal reimbursement comes through to pay down that loan, so small-town taxpayers aren’t fully on the hook for pricey fixes.
“We could definitely use the help,” Maggard said of the federal funding.
More than six weeks after the washouts, some roads are still closed, like one in Rochester, which neighbors Bethel.
While affected communities wait for word from D.C. on the disaster declaration, $500,000 in fast-track funds from the Federal Highway Administration were made available for short-term repairs after a request from the Vermont Transportation Agency, U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao announced earlier this week.