Some expected Gov. Peter Shumlin to announce how much money the Federal Emergency Management Agency will provide to repair and rebuild the Waterbury state office, instead he says don't expect word for another 3-4 weeks.
"We have to prepare for a long, sometimes bumpy, sometimes happy ride with FEMA," said Shumlin, D-Vermont.
If the federal money does not come through the state could face a more than $100 million shortfall. Shumlin says FEMA is a bureaucracy and this is a process. Despite the uncertainty, he is optimistic.
"I believe the FEMA funding will come through," Shumlin said.
The FEMA funding problem just came to light last month over a miscommunication between FEMA and state officials.
"We were led down a path for all of what we based applications on, based on damaged buildings qualifying for reimbursements," Shumlin said.
Shumlin admits mistakes in handling some issues post-Irene, but despite questions by reporters, would not give specifics.
"None of us will not make mistakes," Shumlin said.
Asked what mistakes his administration made, the governor answered, "Oh, you know, I don't think there is any benefit in looking at who made mistakes or where."
But Shumlin did say he regrets using the word promise when talking several weeks ago about FEMA funding.
"The word promise was not the best choice of words," he said. "A better choice of words would be that-- call it promise-- plan-- expect."
The mix-up has ended up in the race for governor. Republican gubernatorial candidate Randy Brock says he is not surprised over the FEMA money problem.
"This clearly again is a case in which we were given clear red flags waving that this was not a done deal. We should have had contingency plans in place and we didn't. We are just beginning to do contingency planning for alternative scenarios," Brock said.
The Shumlin administration looked at several options before deciding to rebuild and repair the office complex in Waterbury. While the governor says he is not looking at any alternatives now in case funding falls through, his staff is.
"We have internally as a staff talked about what could we do and have not settled enough on what those options would be to bring them to the governor," Administration Secretary Jeb Spaulding said.
Despite that, the governor says he remains committed to rebuilding in Waterbury and says the questions over funding are not yet going to slow down the project. He says the new state office complex should be open sometime in the middle of 2015.
If the state is not happy with how much money it's getting when it hears from FEMA, Governor Shumlin says the state will appeal and negotiate for more money. He says it took years for other states that had natural disasters to get final answers from FEMA on money and he said today people can still expect to be having FEMA conversations several years from now.
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