Spring storm damage gets disaster declaration funds

Photo by Madeline Hughes
Trees at Shelburne Museum flattened a portion of the museum’s iron fence during a fierce storm on May 4. Chittenden County towns recently qualified to receive disaster relief funds to pay for municipal cleanup efforts.

STAFF REPORT

Gov. Phil Scott announced Monday that President Donald Trump has signed a disaster declaration for five Vermont counties that suffered substantial damage from early May storms.

Municipalities and qualifying nonprofits such as utilities in Chittenden, Grand Isle, Lamoille, Orange and Orleans Counties are now eligible to apply for federal aid, according to a news release from the governor’s office.

To qualify for public infrastructure disaster assistance, the Federal Emergency Management Administration needs to confirm $1 million in damage to bridges, roads and infrastructure such as utilities.

In a preliminary assessment, FEMA officials identified almost $1.3 million in damage statewide from the storms May 4 and 5.

The storms brought up to 6 inches of rain to some areas of Vermont, causing flooding. Heavy winds downed trees and power lines.

The Town of Shelburne had an estimated $45,000 in damage, most of which was in the town cemetery on Falls Road, according to officials.

The federal declaration allows for claims in the affected counties to receive 75 percent federal reimbursement for storm response work such as debris removal, power restoration, and repairs to public roads, bridges and infrastructure.

Gov. Scott thanked state and federal officials who worked on securing the declaration. “This disaster funding will help communities in these counties with repairs and to strengthen infrastructure to better prevent damage moving forward,” Scott said.

As an example, the governor pointed to repairs to the Colchester Causeway after the storm closed the popular summer bike route. Quick work by local crews allowed it to reopen in time for the summer tourist season.

Briefings for local officials will be held soon by Vermont Emergency Management to outline the requirements and process for applying for funding.

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