No help for Jamaica families after Irene - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

No help for Jamaica families after Irene

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Karin Hardy sits in front of the stream that would later flood her home. Karin Hardy sits in front of the stream that would later flood her home.

Two decorative Swedish ponies sitting on a friend's shelf are all Karin Hardy has left of her Water Street home in Jamaica. A nearby brook roared into a mad river and washed her home, and three of her neighbors homes, away during Tropical Storm Irene. They were told by FEMA to apply for hazard mitigation buyouts.

"At the beginning it was very much we were told we were the poster children for acceptance, it was a wonderful program and basically a done deal," Hardy explains.

But after months of paperwork and red tape the homeowners found out they didn't qualify because apparently they aren't in a registered flood zone.

"It's kind of ridiculous to be told that your home wasn't in a flood zone when it was completely washed away," said Hardy.

After more waiting she says the homeowners were told by the federal government about another way to qualify for the buyout. They should prove that the cost of the buyout is beneficial to the government in the long run. One of the requirements to make the cost beneficial to the government is that the brook just a few feet to my right had to have damaged the homes which were just a few yards to my left at least four times in the past.

"We couldn't come up with anything like that," said Jamaica Select board Chairwoman Lexa Clark. "We did a lot of research and there was nothing that we could prove that it was like that."

The state's hazard mitigation liaison crunched the numbers in accordance with FEMA's cost-benefit analysis and determined the properties did not meet FEMA's standards. After a year and a half of waiting, the homeowners were told by state officials on January 11th that despite losing everything -- they would not get the buyouts.

"I feel kind of numb, honestly about the whole thing," said Hardy. "It is frustrating now. It's -- you kind of wonder -- what's going to happen next with all our other projects and stuff like that," Clark adds.

Clark says they have one last hope -- to apply for a highly competitive federal block grant -- but she's not letting anyone get their hopes up again.

A FEMA spokesperson tells Channel 3 News FEMA haven't reviewed the state's documents yet. Though a March 1st deadline was set for submission – the official says FEMA may be able to formally rule on the matter this week.

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