BURLINGTON, Vt. -- "Getting back home" is the most heartfelt desire of hundreds of Vermonters displaced by flooding.
To help them achieve that goal is one of the Federal Emergency Management Agency's most important missions in Vermont.
Most of the homeowners who were displaced will need to live somewhere else until their flood-damaged home is repaired and they can move back in. Those whose homes cannot be repaired or whose rental housing is gone must find new housing.
"We want to help everyone in counties with a federal disaster declaration get into housing that is safe, sanitary and functional," said Craig Gilbert, the federal coordinating officer who leads FEMA's mission in Vermont.
FEMA has approved more than $10.1 million in grants to Vermonters to help them repair or replace their flood-damaged housing. These grants may also cover rent on temporary housing for a limited time until the family can move back into their repaired home, find another home or find a long-term rental.
The first step for anyone who needs temporary housing is to register with FEMA.
To register with FEMA, call 800-621-FEMA (3362), go online to www.DisasterAssistance.gov or a web-enabled mobile device at m.fema.gov. Multilingual registration assistance is available. Those with a speech disability or hearing loss who use a TTY can call 800-462-7585 directly; or 800-621-3362 if using 711 or Video Relay Service. Phone lines are open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week until further notice.
After registration, a FEMA housing specialist will contact all those who may need temporary housing, generally homeowners with more than $10,000 in damage and renters whose units are no longer habitable. If needed, FEMA will provide the family with referrals to available rentals in their area.
FEMA and the state continue to collect information on available rentals to share with applicants who need rental referrals. The state and FEMA have established toll-free and fax numbers to receive calls from anyone who has rental housing available or wishes to offer housing at no cost for Vermonters displaced by the flood. The phone number is 866-330-5286 and the fax number is 540-686-4467.
Vermonters may also call 2-1-1 to learn more about resources that may be available to help with housing. Individuals in counties without a federal individual assistance declaration should also call 2-1-1.
Callers to 2-1-1 will also be provided with the FEMA contact information for formal registration. **Calling 2-1-1 doesn't register you for FEMA assistance.**
Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, disability, English proficiency or economic status. If you or someone you know has been discriminated against, call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-FEMA (3362). For TTY call 800-462-7585; or call 800-621-3362 if using 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS).
FEMA's temporary housing assistance and grants for public transportation expenses, medical and dental expenses, and funeral and burial expenses do not require individuals to apply for an SBA loan. However, applicants who receive SBA loan applications must submit them to SBA loan officers to be eligible for assistance that covers personal property, vehicle repair or replacement, and moving and storage expenses.
SBA disaster loan information and application forms may be obtained by calling the SBA's Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 (800-877-8339 for people with speech or hearing disabilities) Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET or by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Applications can also be downloaded from