Wed, Dec 14, 2011 10:19 AM
With winter in the air and before the snow falls, communities
are rushing to repair damages caused by both spring flooding and
Tropical Storm Irene and federal and state officials are getting
money into the hands of those doing the work.
Nearly $9.4 million in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
funds have been obligated to the state under the Public Assistance
(PA) program, which distributes the money to municipalities and
certain private nonprofit organizations to clean up and repair
"We are working as hard as we can to get these funds out to the
affected communities," said Federal Coordinating Officer James N.
Russo, the head of FEMA's mission in Vermont. "But we have to
follow the process and its safeguards to ensure that the taxpayers'
money is spent wisely."
Of the nearly $9.4 million obligated so far, roughly half of it -
$4.8 million - is allotted for repairs needed from the early spring
floods that struck Vermont. Another $2.6 million will cover
expenses related to the heavy rains and flooding that occurred
later in the spring, while roughly $2 million is for damages caused
The total public assistance costs for the spring flooding and
Tropical Storm Irene are estimated at $171.8 million.
"Obviously, it will take some time to process the paperwork for the
more than 4,000 projects we expect to receive applications for,"
Russo said. "FEMA will be here for the duration, and we hope the
state and municipalities will be patient as we continue our
As mentioned above, the PA program provides funding to repair roads
and bridges, put water systems and utilities back in order, rebuild
libraries and replace damaged books, repair hospitals and emergency
services, rebuild schools and universities and infrastructure
FEMA's PA program typically reimburses 75 percent of the eligible
cost of these projects, with the state and municipality sharing the
"Our staff is working as diligently as our partners at FEMA to get
funds out the door to the Agency of Transportation and towns who
need them," said Vermont Emergency Management Interim Director