How will Vt pay for all the damage from Irene? - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

How will Vt pay for all the damage from Irene?

Montpelier, Vermont - September 13, 2011

The push continues to get Vermont  back on its feet after Irene and it's coming with a growing price tag. Tuesday the state's emergency board moved $5 million dollars from the corrections department budget to the pot that's being used to pay for damage from the storm.

"Our first job was to get Vermonters out of harm's way. Now we've got to find a way to get our businesses out of harm's way and back up and running," said Gov. Peter Shumlin, D-Vermont.

The board also approved $1.4 million to leverage up to $10 million in loans for battered businesses across the state.

"It gets out money quickly with very little documentation, with no payments due in the first year to businesses and farms that were impacted by the flood. So it is meant to be money that tides them over until they put longer term financing into place," Administration Secretary Jeb Spaulding said.

Tuesday, Vermont's joint finance committee also took action. Tens of thousands of dollars worth of donated goods have filled the state after Irene. It shortened the process that's traditionally used to get the donations into the hands of Vermonters.

"We are very fortunate that America has seen Vermont's plight and they have been donating money and also goods such as grain and also generators and things of that nature," said Sen. John Campbell, D-Vt. President Pro Tem.

The donations will only make up a tiny fraction of Vermont's overall bill from Irene. Damage to state roads could cost more than $500 million dollars to repair. Cleaning up the state office complex in Waterbury alone is estimated at $20 million.

Campbell says final costs are far from certain and getting a better grasp on the totals is key before considering a special session with legislators.

"I think the worst thing that we could do for policy-wise or as a state government is to go in and throw money after something where we really haven't made a full assessment in doing that. I think that's where you end up throwing good money after bad," Campbell said.

Governor Shumlin says sorting out the costs and who ends up paying for what could take months.

"We're in a long marathon here, not a sprint," Shumlin said.

More than 60 businesses have already applied for the state's business loans following Irene. It usually takes two to three days to get approved. Click here for more information on how to apply.

Keith McGilvery - WCAX News

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