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Vermont governor, administration and FEMA officials provide update on flood assistance resources

 Screengrab from Vermont Agency of Agriculture video of Montpelier flooding July 2023
Vermont Agency of Agriculture
Vermont Governor's office
Screengrab from Vermont Agency of Agriculture video of Montpelier flooding July 2023

Vermont Governor Phil Scott was joined by administration and FEMA officials today who provided information on recovery efforts and available assistance for those affected by last week’s flooding.

On Tuesday, Governor Scott was in southern Vermont viewing flood damage.

“I was in Weston yesterday and we went up one of the roads impacted, probably a mile long, and complete devastation. Like, the road is missing. So I would venture to say there are hundreds of miles of town and municipal roads that have been impacted. So this is going to be a long recovery. And some of the challenges we faced before this event are with us today. We simply don’t have the workforce to do it all in one season so we’re going to have to prioritize.”

Six counties have been included in the Federal Disaster declaration, but more than six were impacted by flooding. FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer Will Roy says teams have been doing damage assessments and more counties could be added to the declaration.

“The six counties that were declared were done so via imagery in order to meet the Governor’s desire of an expeditious declaration by the President. We have already completed our on the ground inspections of the non-declared counties to assess the overall damages to see if they meet the federally mandated requirements for individual assistance. And as each of the county’s information is completed, we forward that to FEMA headquarters for assessment whether they are capable to add those counties on. We can never say when. But I believe in a very short period of time we’ll hear about the potential for additional add-on counties.”

FEMA aid does not apply to businesses so Governor Scott has ordered state-level actions to help as federal relief is sought.

“I’m directing the tax commissioner to extend the due date for filing and payment of sales tax, rooms and meals and Vermont payroll withholding tax to November 15th for those impacted by flooding. And on Friday we’ll be announcing more actions to help.”

FEMA is deploying Disaster Survivor Assistance teams across the state and Roy cautioned people to beware of scams.

“Our teams usually operate in two or three and they’ll ask if they’ve had any damages. If they’ve had damages, if they’ve signed up for assistance from FEMA. And if they have not, they have an IPad they can help them sign up. If there are damages and they sign up then the first thing that will happen is they’ll get a call from a housing inspector to coordinate a time for them to go take a look at their home. They’ll have a badge. The unfortunate nature of this business there are people who will take advantage of it. So we have to keep our eye out for scams. If somebody comes to your door, they will have FEMA identification. If they do not, don’t trust ‘em.”

New York Governor Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, announced Wednesday that engineers from the New York Power Authority and the Department of Environmental Conservation have been sent to Vermont to assist with dam safety evaluations. There are 400 dams in Vermont that could pose a risk if they fail. The Power Authority engineers were deployed on Sunday for a week and the New York DEC engineers left Wednesday for two weeks. The assistance was requested by Scott under the Emergency Management Assistance Compact.

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