FEMA Public Information Officer Denise Worhach reports that the agency has received 5,020 applications from Vermonters, including 1,045 from Windham County. FEMA has already approved $13.1 million in payments to Vermonters affected by the storm. “More than 100 people have qualified for the $30,200 maximum grant from FEMA,” Worhach says. “Most people receive an average of $6,000.”
But Worhach says those who may have received word that they’re not eligible for FEMA grants, should still pursue their referrals to the Small Business Administration’s loan program.
Even if storm victims don’t think they’re eligible for a loan, SBA Public Information Officer Garth MacDonald says, it’s important to fill out the application to keep the process open. “If we can’t approve a loan, we’ll refer them back to FEMA and try to fill their unmet need,” he said. “If you’re sent an SBA loan package, turn it in.”
MacDonald said 4,500 applicants have been referred to the SBA. “They’re just starting to come in,” he said, “but we’ve already approved $600,000 in loans. And that number is growing.”
For individual assistance, Worhach says one of the most important things people can do is to keep in touch with FEMA, and update contact information if they move to a new location. “We’re not hearing back from people,” she said. “We have to know how to contact them. And if it has been 10 days since your inspection and you haven’t heard from us, let us know.”
Some residents whose damages were covered under an insurance policy may not be contacting FEMA for assistance, but Worhach says they should. “They may be eligible for a grant to cover the deductable or something that the insurance doesn’t cover.” Driveway damage is one of the things that may not be covered by a homeowners policy, but may be covered by FEMA.
FEMA and the SBA have opened 11 disaster recovery centers across the state, including one at Dover Town Hall, to provide face-to-face assistance to those affected by the disaster.
Storm victims can also apply for assistance at online at www.disasterassistance.gov or by phone at (800) 6210-3362. The deadline for application is Monday, October 31.
Worhach says the disaster recovery centers will remain open as long as there is demand.
So far, the Dover location has received 295 applications. The Brattleboro center has received 389, and Bennington has received 88. (The total number of applications received from Bennington County residents is 318, and $432,000 in grants for housing and other needs have been approved for Bennington County.)
MacDonald also urges businesses to pursue loans through the SBA and Vermont Economic Development Authority.
“We’re trying to keep the community together, and this community relies on tourism,” MacDonald says. “We want to get businesses back so you can have a great foliage season and winter.”