FEMA Assesses Private Damage

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(Host) Federal Emergency Management Agency officials have been spread out around the state this week, assessing flood damage to individual homes.

Emergency Management Program Specialist Nehru Harper has been part of a FEMA crew in Grand Isle County, and she says there are certain criteria the teams are looking for to determine a level of damage:

(Harper) "If you have water standing in your basement for like a day before you can pump that out, or what have you, we consider that minor. If there is 5 feet of water in your house and it’s rising up to your first floor. If you have to move your living arrangement to another floor to get away from the water. We look at things like that. If you had to be evacuated, we look at that. We have a small criteria that we follow to determine what’s minor, what’s major, and what’s destroyed."

(Host) Harper says most of the damage she’s seen so far in Grand Isle would be categorized as minor.

FEMA crews are collaborating with representatives of the Small Business Association, town Emergency Management Directors, and others to conduct a joint preliminary damage assessment. Their data will go to Governor Shumlin, who will move it on to the President. At that point the President will determine whether or not Vermont qualifies for a federal disaster declaration and any financial assistance from FEMA.

With flood waters around Lake Champlain still high, not all of the damage can be assessed yet, and Harper says FEMA crews could return to the state if necessary.

(Harper) "It’s really up to you all. You kind of tell us what you want us to do. And if you feel the need for us to come back to assess more damage we’ll return and assess more damage. Keep us abreast of what is going on so we can be of service to you. Cause we’re here for you."

(Host) FEMA teams are expected to wrap up their current assessments of individual home damage early next week.

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