Federal Aid to Help NH, Vt. Make Storm Repairs - NECN

Federal Aid to Help NH, Vt. Make Storm Repairs



    Federal aid to help NH, Vt. make storm repairs

    U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen toured one of the hardest-hit communities Wednesday (Published Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014)

    (NECN: Jack Thurston, Lebanon, N.H.) - Wednesday, Thom Dubuque showed U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., what remains of his front yard on Slayton Hill in Lebanon.

    "It's going to be subject to additional washout," the homeowner told Shaheen. "I think on this hill, property-wise, I probably took it as hard or harder than anybody else."

    Vicious flash flooding caused by torrential rain in early July left the city with a $6.5-million repair bill for public infrastructure; more than half of that on Slayton Hill.

    Shaheen told residents a more than $1-million federal transportation grant and a presidential disaster declaration for Cheshire, Grafton, and Sullivan counties will help communities fund fixes. But she acknowledged it's a lot tougher to make private homeowners whole again.

    "There are limitations, unfortunately, to what FEMA covers, so we've got to look for how we can all cooperate to try and help those people who have been harmed," Shaheen told New England Cable News. "If there are any federal dollars available that can help people here, we want to make sure they know what those are, so we can get them to Lebanon.”

    On the other side of the Connecticut River, Vermont was also hit hard by a series of early summer storms. This week, the state's congressional delegation announced the U.S. Transportation Dept. is sending $3.2-million to help make repairs. That followed a similar $1-million emergency grant received earlier this summer.

    "I'm sick and tired of having floods, having to go to the president for disaster relief, but I'm very, very grateful to him and to all those working together with us to get us the resources to rebuild," said Gov. Peter Shumlin, D-Vt.

    Shumlin noted that another federal disaster declaration for Vermont's Caledonia, Chittenden, Orange, Orleans, Rutland, Washington and Windsor counties will mean municipalities can recoup 75-percent of their costs of rebuilding roads, culverts, and other public property.

    Back in Lebanon, neighbors on and around Slayton Hill told NECN they know the area may not be back to normal until next spring. But the city is telling them the bulk of the work will be done by the end of this year, with patching and final paving completed in 2014.

    "There's only a handful of contractors that have the ability to do this to begin with," said Chief Chris Christopoulos of the Lebanon Fire Dept. "I'm optimistic we'll begin construction by mid-September."

    Christopoulos and so many others across northern New England are just hoping for quieter weather as they clean up the messes left by the wild start to summer.