MONTPELIER — Gov. Phil Scott has filed a formal request for a federal disaster declaration to help towns in Windham and Bennington counties pay for road repairs after torrential late July rainstorms.
“Many communities impacted by these storms were left with repair costs that far exceed their annual road maintenance budgets,” Scott said. “This is an area of our state that has felt the impacts of storms of all sizes over the past year, and without federal assistance they will be left with another bill that will impact its residents for some time.”
The request filed by the governor’s office this week covers the storms on July 29 and 30, when about 5 inches of rain fell in a couple hours. No timetable was given for a federal decision on the request.
Windham and Bennington counties met the per capita damage requirement to qualify for federal help, according to Mark Bosma, spokesman for the Department of Emergency Management.
Bosma stressed that it wasn’t too late for towns to apply for the funding once the disaster declaration has been confirmed. And he said that those towns that had submitted preliminary figures would not be bound by those figures.
If it is granted, federal money would pick up 75 percent of the cost of the repairs.
State officials said the towns would not be held to earlier estimates. “Damages will almost certainly far exceed $4 million, in fact, we estimate it’s now more than $6 million. The final tally could be less than that, but will most likely be more,” Bosma added.
“The feds will not hold anyone to any estimate. FEMA only needs to verify a minimum monetary threshold, which is $1 million for the state, based on a $1.55 per capita, but a minimum of $1 million for a state, but we like to show more than that to help make our case. FEMA verified over $2 million,” he said.
He said the threshold for individual counties is based on $3.89 per capita, which for Bennington County is $144,416, while FEMA has already validated $1.15 million in damages. The required amount for Windham County is $173,156, where FEMA has so far validated $1.11 million in damages.
“The most important info for towns is that they have not missed the boat; they can still apply for reimbursement of final damage repair costs, should we get the declaration,” Bosma said.