With federal disaster aid stretched thin by storm and flood damage around the country, the Federal Emergency Management Agency said Wednesday it is halting nearly $3 billion in disaster funding, including a little more than $7 million allocated for projects in Vermont.
Meanwhile, a federal government shutdown is possible unless the U.S. House can work out a deal. But Doug Farnham, Vermont’s chief recovery officer, said the state will continue workinmg with FEMA to complete the projects.
“While we may not be able to obligate in the short-term, in the event of a shutdown we will still be able to work together with FEMA to build the project inventories and the workbooks and everything that goes into knowing what our long-term work is,” he said.
On Wednesday, FEMA showed off a staged version of the mobile home units that will be available for people forced from their homes by the July floods. While 36 of the units will eventually be available at the old Elks Lodge site, said there is still no timetable for when the development will begin.
“We’ve got some schematics we’re working on,” said William Roy, the agency’s federal coordinating officer in Vermont. “We’ll be sharing that with our FEMA headquarters and taking a look at how we can best utilize it. We aren’t in a lease yet, but we anticipate we are getting very close to that.”
Roy added that, in the event of a government shutdown later this week, the agency’s role in Vermont won’t be affected. “We’ll continue to support Vermont, and all the personnel we have here will stay,” he said.
Gov. Phil Scott said the state still has funding from the federal American Rescue Plan Act, including $10 million set aside for Vermonters to fix or overhaul their home heating systems.
“We have practiced this drill year after year,” Scott said. “We have drawn down all the possible funds that we can to get through this.”
Peter Walke, managing director of Efficiency Vermont, said his agency and the Vermont Fuel Dealers Association], will continue to assist low- and moderate-income Vermonters impacted by the floods get their heat and hot water and other basic appliances working before cold weather sets in.
Scott said anyone who needs heating assistance to call his office.