Shumlin Is Optimistic State Will Get Federal Aid

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(Host) Gov. Peter Shumlin says he’s confident that Vermont will receive federal aid to help repair roads, bridges and culverts that have been damaged by recent floods in several parts of the state.

But, as VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports, the likelihood of getting the same kind of help for damages to homes and businesses is far less certain.

(Kinzel) Towns officials are now starting to total up the damages in their communities caused by the recent flooding of Lake Champlain and the flash flood that hit parts of central Vermont and the Northeast Kingdom last week.

Many town roads have suffered enormous damage, and in a number of cases, the repair costs will certainly exceed a million dollars for each community.

Governor Peter Shumlin is working with the state’s Congressional delegation to win federal emergency disaster relief funds to help repair the local transportation infrastructure.

The governor says he’s confident that the Obama Administration will sign off on this request in the near future:

(Shumlin) "And that will mean that Vermont municipalities and towns will be able to get 75 percent funding from the federal government to match culverts, bridges and all the kind of reconstruction that has to happen there. Then, usually the way it works for there in terms of the remaining dollars is that the state generally pays about half of the unserved part that the federal government doesn’t give us and local communities pay the other half. So it tends to be 10 or 12 percent out of their pockets."

(Kinzel) But Shumlin says winning federal aid for damages incurred by private homeowners and businesses is a much more difficult challenge:

(Shumlin) "We’re making a very tough case and an earnest case for individual assistance. Now, whether we’ll get that or not is certainly an open question. It’s very tough to get, but we’re going to keep pushing until they say no."

(Kinzel) Shumlin is hoping that the strong relationship that he and members of the Congressional delegation have with the President will increase the chances of winning federal assistance for individuals and businesses hit hard by the flooding:

(Shumlin) "We don’t want to raise expectations and then be turned down. All I can tell you is that I’m making a direct appeal to President Obama, the Congressional delegation is making a direct appeal to the president and it’s not out of the question that we could get some individual assistance for the damage that so many Vermonters have taken on."

(Kinzel) Members of the Federal Emergency Management Agency have been in Vermont for the last few days to personally assess the damage to both public and private property.

For VPR News, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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