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Funding Approved For Brattleboro Housing Authority Work

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Release date: 
September 20, 2012
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ESSEX JUNCTION, Vt. –  A public housing project in Brattleboro that was damaged during Tropical Storm Irene will receive federal funding for subsequent clean up and repairs as well as steps to flood proof the structures for the short term.

The Brattleboro Housing Authority’s Melrose Terrace facility will receive $290,000 through the federal Public Assistance program for the recovery work and steps to make any future flooding less costly for residents there.

“Planning is underway to find new locations for these affordable homes and move them out of harm’s way,” said Jennifer Hollar, Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Economic, Housing and Community Development. “The state is grateful for FEMA’s assistance and BHA’s efforts to ensure the buildings are made as safe as possible in the interim.”

Melrose Terrace, built in 1965, is located in the floodplain of nearby Whetstone Brook, which spilled its banks during Irene and inundated the 17 buildings that make up the complex. No one was injured because the Brattleboro Housing Authority (BHA) had evacuated the residents as a precaution the previous day.

While FEMA typically does not invest in repairing or flood-proofing buildings that are as flood-prone as Melrose Terrace, FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer for Vermont Mark Landry said that officials at FEMA’s Region I office in Boston agreed to the plan because not only did BHA have an evacuation plan in place, but it committed to finding a new location for these vulnerable populations as soon as possible.

“We are pleased that we are able to help the residents of Melrose Terrace, many of whom are seniors or people with disabilities, while the Brattleboro Housing Authority seeks a long-term housing solution for these residents,” said Landry.

While BHA’s insurance paid most of the roughly $1 million costs of the repairs, FEMA agreed to contribute $90,000 in uninsured costs through its Public Assistance (PA) program, which provides funding to state, municipalities, and certain non-profits to repair roads and bridges, hospitals and schools, and other infrastructure damaged in disasters.

In addition, FEMA agreed to use its Mitigation program funding, which pays to help make future disasters less costly, to flood-proof the most vulnerable buildings by providing approximately $200,000 for:

  • Installing aluminum flood shields in the doorways and around exterior electric panels;
  • Replacing baseboard electric heaters with elevated electric heaters;
  • Raising both the kitchen stove outlets and electric water heaters a foot above the 100-year flood elevation.

“FEMA recognizes that these are temporary measures, and that relocating these people safely outside the floodplain is the preferred solution,” Landry said. “But until that is accomplished, these steps, coupled with BHA’s evacuation plan, will allow the residents to continue to live in Melrose Place and to avoid the kind of costly property damages if another flood occurs similar in magnitude to Irene.”

So far FEMA has obligated, or paid to the state, approximately $129 million in reimbursement for Public Assistance projects related to Tropical Storm Irene, as well as $23 million in Individual Assistance to individuals and families for losses.

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Last Updated: 
October 28, 2014 - 14:28
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