Colchester, Vt. -- Local municipalities in the seven designated Vermont counties that sustained damage from the severe storms and flooding of August 12 - September 12 have one more week to apply for disaster assistance. October 23 is the last day applications will be accepted.
The area covered in the disaster declaration by President Bush on September 23 includes Addison, Caledonia, Chittenden, Franklin, Lamoille, Orleans, and Windham counties.
Federal Coordinating Officer Philip E. Parr encouraged communities seeking federal reimbursement for costs incurred because of the disaster to get their applications in as soon as possible. "FEMA is eager to help these communities. Our folks are in place and ready to process applications from towns that are eligible. The sooner the better," said Parr.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) public assistance program reimburses 75 percent of eligible expenses. These include costs of debris removal and overtime for emergency protective services, as well as the repair or replacement of disaster-damaged public infrastructures. State and local governments share the remaining 25 percent of the costs.
Vermont State Coordinating Officer Kerry Sleeper explained that the storms eroded gravel roads, displaced or destroyed culverts, and taxed municipal resources for debris removal, flood fighting and other protective measures in many communities. "Most of these communities would be hard-pressed to cover these costs without the help of federal disaster assistance," said Sleeper.
State and Federal officials met with local officials to explain the public assistance program. The briefings outlined how prospective applicants could apply for help. They explained reimbursable expenses eligible under the declarations and how to collect and report these expenses to expedite payment.
Any prospective applicant who has not applied should contact the State Public Assistance Coordinator Gary Schelley at 802-828-0425.
On March 1, 2003, FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. FEMA's continuing mission within the new department is to lead the effort to prepare the nation for all hazards and effectively manage federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident. FEMA also initiates proactive mitigation activities, trains first responders, and manages the National Flood Insurance Program and the U.S. Fire Administration.