(Host) Governor Peter Shumlin says he’s optimistic that all Vermont counties that have suffered damage from recent flooding will be eligible for federal disaster relief programs.
Federal officials have now identified seven counties for relief, and another three counties are seeking the designation.
VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports:
(Kinzel) Federal Emergency Management officials review flood damage to homeowners, businesses and the state’s transportation system on a county by county basis. The three counties in question – Washington, Caledonia and Windham – experienced significant damage during the flash floods at the end May.
The Governor says he’s confident federal officials will make these counties eligible for disaster relief just as soon as they tally up the damage totals in each county.
(Shumlin) "For the simple reason that they simply didn’t act on those particular counties because the storms happened later than the original storms that were granted to the first seven counties."
(Kinzel) Shumlin says the disaster designation offers vital grants and loans to homeowners.
(Shumlin) "which means that a home that’s damaged will qualify for up to $30,200 worth of outright grants to help rebuild, to replace contents, to cover expenses that were incurred for housing and other things during the floods – that’s a huge help – as well as up to $240,000 of low interest S.B.A. loans to help rebuild."
(Kinzel) While businesses aren’t eligible for any federal grants, Shumlin says they can apply for as much as a $2 million low interest loan.
Meanwhile, the state has launched a grant program for businesses. The program has a cap of $25,000 per business and it’s designed to make grants available in a very short period of time. Jo Bradley is the chief executive officer of the Vermont Economic Development Authority – the group that’s running this program.
(Bradley) "We have, I think, 19 applications and we’ve already approved three and we hope to get the checks out just as soon as we can. My staff has said they’ll actually go over to Barre after hours if need be so the businesses won’t have to take time off from their work, bring the checks and the paperwork and do it that way."
(Kinzel) The Governor says the combination of state and federal programs should help most businesses survive.
(Shumlin) "The good news is that we should not lose one single business if we play our cards right because of this flooding…we should be able to navigate this and recover and we don’t lose jobs as a result of it."
(Kinzel) The deadline for businesses to apply for the state grant program is July 15th.
For VPR News, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.