WATERBURY, VT – Vermont Emergency Management (VEM) Director Erica Bornemann has requested a Preliminary Damage Assessment (PDA) from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to determine if the state qualifies for a federal major disaster declaration following power outages and other damage from the December 23-24, 2022 storm. The request asks for assessments in Addison, Caledonia, Chittenden, Essex, Franklin, Grand Isle, and Orleans counties. Additional counties could be added to the request as data collection continues.
“This storm was significant for Vermonters and Vermont’s utilities,” Vermont Emergency Management Director Erica Bornemann said. “Municipal, non-profit, and private utilities worked for several days to restore electric service to tens of thousands of customers in rural areas of Vermont. Some smaller electric departments spent hundreds of thousands to over a million dollars on repairs, far exceeding their yearly budgets for emergency work.”
A federal Public Assistance disaster declaration could reimburse municipal and non-profit utilities for 75% of restoration costs. A declaration could also reimburse municipalities for 75% of their costs for things like debris removal, road repairs, and staff overtime cleaning up after the storm.
Vermont officials have identified more than $2 million in costs incurred by public and non-profit utilities, and communities and assessments are on-going. To qualify for a major disaster declaration Vermont must show at least $1.14 million in response and public infrastructure recovery costs. Individual counties must also show public infrastructure damages and recovery costs of $4.44 per capita, which includes the cost of power restoration in municipal utility service areas. FEMA must validate the damage estimates before the Governor can request a disaster declaration. Total damage will be higher, the state only initially verifies enough damage to meet the federal disaster declaration threshold, a more accurate number will be accounted for during the reimbursement process.
The assessments will begin the week of January 9 and predominantly entail reviewing financial records with utilities.
Homeowners who suffered damage in the storm should report that to their insurance company.