BURLINGTON, Vt. – While Vermonters have spent their fall repairing the damage caused by Tropical Storm Irene and buttoning up before winter’s snows arrive, some federal disaster workers have been making the rounds at farmers markets and hardware stores offering some free advice.
On Wednesday, mitigation outreach specialists from the Federal Emergency Management Agency will have attended more than 100 events around the state – from Oktoberfests to art shows to farmers markets – to inform Vermonters on how to make the next natural disaster less destructive by rebuilding “better and safer.”
“Our team works very hard to help people who’ve been affected by disasters,” said FEMA’s Federal Coordinating Officer, James N. Russo. “And that doesn’t just include the people delivering assistance. Mitigation specialists are an important part of recovery, and their outreach efforts in Vermont have really taken them to where the people are who need their help.”
The mitigation specialists have been offering residents cost-effective information about rebuilding their flood-damaged structures, and have counseled nearly 6,000 residents face to face at public events and at Disaster Recovery Centers.
In addition to advising people how to reinforce buildings against flooding and other hazards, they can provide information on the National Flood Insurance Program, which is a federally-backed insurance program to cover flood damage to residents of participating communities.
The specialists also offer advice on mold and mildew cleanup, and how electrical systems, furnaces and other appliances can be protected from flooding, often by simply elevating them off the basement floor.
“If any good can come from this disaster, it would be for Vermonters to take steps to eliminate or minimize damage from a future flood or other disasters,” said Wes Parker, FEMA’s Community Education and Outreach supervisor. “We’d like to help make that happen.”
Free publications on a wide range of rebuilding and recovery topics are available. To download materials on a variety of topics about strengthening property, go to /rebuild/recover/resources.shtm
To register for FEMA aid, please visit www.DisasterAssistance.gov. Call 800-621-FEMA (3362) or TTY at 800-462-7585. Users of Video Relay Service (VRS) may call 800-621-3362. The toll free phone numbers are staffed from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week until further notice. If needed, multilingual specialists are available. By Smartphone or tablet, use m.fema.gov. The registration deadline for disaster assistance is Nov. 15.
FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.