Communities wait for FEMA funds to finish repairs - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Communities wait for FEMA funds to finish repairs

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HARTLAND, Vt. -

Town Manager Bob Stacey points to a section of the Gilson Road in Hartland that was washed out during an early July storm. For this town, the 2013 weather has been much worse than Tropical Storm Irene.

"A lot of damage," Stacey said. "Probably 90 percent of the roads had some effect."

Much of the work has been completed, but the major repairs will come with a price tag in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

"We still have three major repairs that need to be done. That will be done by contractors. It is just out of our realm," Stacey said.

And Hartland is just one of several Vermont towns hit hard by flash flooding. Federal Emergency Management Agency officials toured the region and President Obama recently granted the state's request for a federal disaster declaration.

"I'm sick and tired of having floods and having to go to the president for disaster relief, but I am very, very grateful," said Gov. Peter Shumlin, D-Vermont.

The affected counties for this round of funding include Caledonia, Chittenden, Orange, Orleans, Rutland, Washington and Windsor. With the declaration, the government could end up picking up 75 percent of the tab.

"This is my fifth declaration for federal funding that I have had to do in my two and a half years as governor, so they are getting used to me down there," Shumlin said.

"Being the old Vermonter type that we are around here, we say, well, we will just take care of it ourselves. But it's nice to have that relief. It sure helps on the tax rate," Stacey said.

And a break for the tax rate is welcome news for town residents, who are dealing with their own storm-related problems. Like the folks at the Lemax Farm in Hartland, a section of their corn crop was literally washed away. The farm leases the land, but it's less field to plant in the future.

Ed Meacham/Lemax Farm: We were hauling manure over there and I saw what looked to be a hole, so I walked over and it was a hole.

Reporter Adam Sullivan: Unbelievable. How do you fix something like that?

Ed Meacham: I can't. It's way bigger than I can do.

Three counties in New Hampshire-- Cheshire, Sullivan and Grafton-- were also declared disasters by the president. And while it's welcome news, officials say it could be months before the money begins flowing into the affected towns.

FEMA officials will be back in the region next week to assign case managers who will begin working with individual towns.

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