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Vermont hires private contractors to help towns apply for FEMA aid for July floods

The golden dome of the Vermont capitol rises over a flooded street
Mike Dougherty
/
Vermont Public
Vermont is bringing in private contractors to help municipalities apply for FEMA aid for July flood damage as deadlines approach. Douglas Farnham, chief flood recovery officer for the state, said hopefully it will make it easier for municipalities to participate.

The Scott administration has hired private contractors in an attempt to fast-track the drawdown of federal disaster mitigation funds.

Vermont is eligible for more than $100 million in hazard mitigation funding from FEMA as a result of damage from the July floods. But Douglas Farnham, chief flood recovery officer for the state, said Vermont has to submit a final list of proposed projects to FEMA by the end of calendar year 2024. And he said enlisting outside contractors will expedite the application process for municipalities.

More information and pre-application forms can be found through Vermont Emergency Management.

“We are, at the state level, stepping in and managing the hazard mitigation applications so that towns and municipalities and cities have less work on their plate,” Farnham said Wednesday. “That, I think, will make it easier for municipalities to participate. We’re trying to remove barriers wherever we can.”

Farnham said towns and cities can use the funding to finance home buyouts, restore floodplains, upsize culverts and improve roads and bridges.

"We’re trying to remove barriers wherever we can.”
Douglas Farnham, chief flood recovery officer

More than 300 residents are seeking buyouts as a result of the July floods. Farnham said municipalities will ultimately have to sign off on any FEMA-funded projects that involve the purchase of property from landowners.

“At the end of the day … the individual owners and the municipalities need to be on board, so the state’s not going to be able to force anything to happen, but we’ll do our best to strongly encourage,” he said.

More from Vermont Public: Vermont spent millions on flood mitigation after Tropical Storm Irene. Did it work?

Farnham said mitigation projects funded by similar grants after Tropical Storm Irene prevented many communities from experiencing more severe damage during the floods last summer.

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The Vermont Statehouse is often called the people’s house. I am your eyes and ears there. I keep a close eye on how legislation could affect your life; I also regularly speak to the people who write that legislation.