BURLINGTON, Vt. – As towns rebuild infrastructure battered by Tropical Storm Irene, state and federal officials are reminding them that funding is available to make repairs that are better able to withstand future disasters.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency will help pay to make repairs that improve the ability of damaged infrastructure to weather the next flood, for example, putting in a larger culvert to replace one that was washed out.
“Some people are under the mistaken belief that FEMA will only pay to replace a blown-out culvert with the same size one, and that’s just not true,” said FEMA’s Federal Coordinating Officer James N. Russo. “FEMA will pay up to 75 percent of the cost of both repairing the culvert, and upgrading it to a larger size.”
Under Section 406 of the Public Assistance Program, mitigation measures may be added to infrastructure repair projects that are eligible for FEMA Public Assistance, with FEMA paying 75 percent of both the repair and the mitigation activity.
The state and local governments provide the remaining 25 percent matching funds, allowing towns to utilize FEMA funding to try new approaches. The projects must also demonstrate that the cost of putting in the new measures is less than the cost of damage that might occur without them.
Under the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP), which is called Section 404, FEMA will also help pay for additional mitigation measures, for example, to elevate flood-prone structures or to purchase flood-damaged properties in areas prone to flooding and remove them.
As with Section 406 mitigation projects, HMGP can fund up to 75 percent of the eligible costs of each project, with the state or grantee providing a 25 percent match.
The two programs could even be combined on a single project. For example, if a culvert blew out and undermined a road, a larger culvert could be installed and the cost would be covered by the Section 406 funding. At the same time, if the town wanted to install a debris trap upstream from the new culvert, funding for that might be eligible through the HMGP.
Both programs are administered by the state, which reviews applications from communities and prioritizes projects for funding. The state typically receives 15 percent of the total estimated amount of federal aid for a disaster as a mitigation grant to be distributed to eligible communities.
“Vermont is committed to taking the opportunities that present themselves to repair infrastructure to make it more resistant to disasters, as well as taking other steps to better protect life and property in the future,” said Vermont Emergency Management Interim Director Peter Coffey.
To learn more about mitigation funding, visit: http://vem.vermont.gov/programs/mitigation
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.