ADDISON COUNTY — Tropical Storm Irene is long gone, but on Tuesday individuals and towns were rushing to meet the deadline to register for disaster aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
By Tuesday’s deadline, FEMA had approved more than $20 million in disaster relief grants to individual Vermonters, with registrations from nearly 7,194 individuals and families across the state. To this point in Addison County, FEMA has accepted 181 applications for aid, and has approved more than $361,000 in disaster grants.
But while individual totals are in, FEMA spokesperson Victor Inge said the agency’s work in the state is far from over. While towns across the state also met the Tuesday deadline to register for aid, they will be submitting individual projects separately for reimbursement for months to come, as will the state of Vermont.
“They’re going to trickle in,” said Inge of the project filings.
Towns are slowly filing claims for larger projects that have already been finished, and officials in many Addison County towns say they still have a ways to go on repairs, including two large road projects that won’t be completed until next spring in Granville and Hancock.
FEMA representative Billy Penn said the agency has paid out $1,178,195 in public assistance funding so far, but that the payments have only been on “small projects” costing less than $60,000.
Penn said he couldn’t estimate how much FEMA would be paying out on public assistance. But, as a point of comparison, he said total payouts from the two smaller flooding disasters in the state last spring have reached $6,315,574 at this point, which he estimated is about three quarters of the total amount that FEMA will ultimately pay out.
For each public project, FEMA pays 75 percent of the total cost, while the state and the town are obligated to pay for the remainder.
The Small Business Administration (SBA) also marked a Tuesday deadline for loan applications. Despite its name, the SBA also makes low-interest disaster loans to homeowners and renters as well as businesses.
Carl Sherrill, an SBA spokesperson, said the agency has received only a fraction of the applications for loans that FEMA has.
He encouraged those individuals and businesses that did not make the deadline to apply still, as the agency can still fill claims.
While the average FEMA grant to individuals in Vermont is under $6,000 — designed to carry people through the immediate aftermath of a disaster — the average SBA individual loan totals $47,000. And, said Sherrill, the SBA loan application can qualify those hardest-hit by the storm for mortgage refinancing, loan consolidation or other, more substantial FEMA grants for personal property losses or other needs.
“If people don’t complete that application, they may not get all that’s available to them,” he said. “Just get (the application) in to us.”
After Tuesday’s deadline, FEMA officials released the total individual registrations for towns across the state, as well as the running total of approved funding.
Nineteen towns in Addison County had at least one individual relief application (see chart), with 54 applications filed from Hancock and 43 in Granville. On Monday, $109,858 had been approved for Hancock, and $108,007 for Granville.
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Meanwhile, towns are still working on repairing infrastructure, with some projects pushed back until next spring. Officials in Granville last week said storm-related repairs so far had cost $259,000, while officials in Hancock reported $150,000 in spending. Ripton officials estimated spending of about $100,000. Bristol officials estimated that repairs had so far cost the town between $200,000 and $250,000.
Estimates in Lincoln were at about $74,000 last week, but town treasurer Larry Masterson emphasized that, as in all towns, the bills were still coming in. Costs for the towns will continue to come in throughout the winter and spring.
Town Manager Bill Finger estimated that Middlebury has spend about $70,000 on storm-related repairs. But he said he’s still not sure how much more the town will have to spend, since state and town officials are still determining how much work it will have to do in the Middlebury River.
“We really don’t have any idea at this point,” he said of the total costs to the town. “The whole process could go on for a number of months.
For more information on FEMA and SBA funding, visit disasterassistance.gov.
Reporter Andrea Suozzo is at firstname.lastname@example.org.