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BRATTLEBORO — The state of Vermont is hoping to use $5 million in COVID-19 relief funds to help buy out and move mobile homes in areas at risk of flooding.

The plan builds on lessons learned during flooding from Tropical Storm Irene in 2011, and aims to assist mobile home residents with finding a new place to live if they accept the buyout, said Vermont Emergency Management Hazard Mitigation Officer Stephanie Smith.

“It’s not enough just to buy a property; we need to know that someone has somewhere to go, or whoever we’re buying it from has someplace to go,” Smith said.

Vermont Public Radio said a recent statewide report listed flood danger as one of the key areas of concern for mobile home parks across the state. The report singled out parks in Starksboro, Braintree and Bennington as having the greatest risk of damage.

“A lot of them are in a vulnerable flood area. And during Irene, there were certainly a lot of parks that were impacted pretty significantly because of their location in flood risk areas,” Smith said.

The task is made more complicated because many mobile home residents own their homes, but rent the land where they are located. Many older homes can’t be moved, and the federal buyout program often doesn’t completely cover the full cost of moving.

Vermont has wide discretion over how it spends the more that $2.7 billion in American Rescue Plan Act funding it’s expected to receive.


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