Thursday, September 29, 2011

Deadline EXTENDED for Public Assistance Disaster Fund Applications

Cities and towns in Vermont will have an extra 16 days to apply for federal disaster assistance to help repair damage caused by Tropical Storm Irene. The new deadline for communities to apply is now October 17, 2011. President Barack Obama signed an emergency Public Assistance disaster declaration for all Vermont counties on September 1st.
The declaration makes all cities and towns in Vermont eligible to receive 75% reimbursement for eligible response repair, and cleanup costs. By law, those who are eligible for funds MUST submit a request for public assistance with the Federal Emergency Management Agency within 30 days of the declaration – however, that deadline has been extended to October 17, 2011.
Communities, certain non-profits, and publicly owned utilities in the declared counties can put in claims for things like overtime paid for storm cleanup, public infrastructure damage, contractors, equipment rentals, fuel for those rentals and other publicly owned equipment used for cleanup or repairs, and any other costs above and beyond normal operating expenses.
Your regional planning commission, the Vermont Agency of Transportation, and PA specialists from FEMA can help with the application process, but it must be completed by the deadline of October 17th. This does not affect the October 31 deadline for individuals to apply for Individual Assistance. For more information, please call Alec Portalupi at the Vermont Agency of Transportation at 802-828-3889; or Gary Schelley of VTrans at (802) 828-0425.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Myth vs Fact about Registering For FEMA Aid

Some Vermonters who were affected by Tropical Storm Irene may have not registered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency for assistance because of misconceptions or lack of accurate information.
Here are some examples.
MYTH: I thought my income was too high for me to qualify.
FACT: There is no income cutoff for FEMA aid. Anyone with disaster damage or loss in the declared counties may be eligible for help. FEMA grants may cover under insured or uninsured losses.
MYTH: My insurance agent told me I wouldn’t be able to get help from FEMA because I have flood insurance.
FACT: Everyone with flood insurance should register. FEMA may be able to help with uninsured costs.
MYTH: I don’t want FEMA assistance because it will affect my Social Security benefits, taxes, food stamps or Medicaid.
FACT: FEMA assistance does not affect benefits from other federal programs and it is not reportable as taxable income.
MYTH: I’ve already cleaned up and made the repairs. Isn’t it too late?
FACT: You may be eligible for reimbursement of your clean up and repair expenses.
MYTH: I thought FEMA only gave loans. I don’t want a loan.
FACT: FEMA only provides grants that do not have to be repaid. FEMA’s individual assistance program covers expenses for temporary housing, home repairs, replacement of damaged personal property and other disaster-related needs, such as medical, dental or transportation costs not covered by insurance or other programs. The U.S. Small Business Administration provides low-interest loans to renters, homeowners and businesses of all sizes. Some applicants may receive an SBA loan application after registering with FEMA. No one is obligated to take out a loan. But if they don’t complete the application, they may not be considered for other federal grants.
MYTH: I’m a renter. I thought FEMA aid was only for homeowners to repair their homes.
FACT: FEMA may provide grants to help renters who lost personal property or were displaced.
MYTH: I heard there’s too much red tape and paperwork to register.
FACT: There is no paperwork to register with FEMA. You can do it with one phone call that takes a short while, by calling 800-621-FEMA (3362). Those with a speech disability or hearing loss who use a TTY can call 800-462-7585; or 800-621-3362 if using 711 or Video Relay Service. You can also register online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or via a web-enabled mobile device at m.fema.gov. The website helps reduce the number of forms to be filled out and shortens the time it takes to apply.
MYTH: I already received disaster assistance last year. I thought I couldn’t get it again this year.
FACT: If you had damage from another federally declared disaster you may register for new assistance.
MYTH: Isn’t FEMA broke? Other people need the help more than I do.
FACT: FEMA has enough funding to assist all eligible survivors with immediate needs. You will not be taking from others if you register for aid yourself. FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards. Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, disability, English proficiency or economic status. If you or someone you know has been discriminated against, call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-FEMA (3362). For TTY call800-462-7585; or call 800-621-3362 if using 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS). FEMA’s temporary housing assistance and grants for public transportation expenses, medical and dental expenses, and funeral and burial expenses do not require individuals to apply for an SBA loan. However, applicants who receive SBA loan applications must submit them to SBA loan officers to be eligible for assistance that covers personal property, vehicle repair or replacement, and moving and storage expenses. SBA disaster loan information and application forms may be obtained by calling the SBA’s Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 (800-877-8339 for people with speech or hearing disabilities) Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET or by sending an e-mail to disastercustomerservice@sba.gov. Applications can also be downloaded from www.sba.gov or completed on-line at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Free Online Courses now Available!


Springfield Town Library patrons now have access to over 500 online courses for free. All you need is your library barcode. Just go to the library website and click on "Free Online Courses" or click here to view courses and get started today! You may enroll in up to 5 courses at a time and you have 6 months to complete any one course.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

VT Irene Crowdmap

Click here for a map of key information post-Irene. This site includes damage documentation, recovery coordination, road closures and more.

Watch out for Disaster Fraud and Scammers

FEMA News Release:

VERMONT DISASTER SURVIVORS: WATCH OUT FOR FRAUD

BURLINGTON, Vt. – Unfortunately, when there are disasters, swindlers often follow, seeking to profit from others’ misfortune. State and federal officials caution Vermonters to be on the lookout for the many different schemes they may encounter.

Some scammers may falsely claim to work for the Federal Emergency Management Agency or another government agency, such as the U.S. Small Business Administration. All legitimate FEMA and SBA workers have official identification and can prove they are who they claim to be.

Con artists often aim to find out personal information, including Social Security and bank account numbers that can then be used for identity theft. When those affected by the storm first register for assistance, they need to provide a Social Security number as well as a bank account number, if they request direct deposit of FEMA aid. On any follow-up calls or visits, however, a FEMA representative may ask for the last four digits of the applicant’s Social Security number, but never the whole number. The bank account number does not need to be provided again.

Some scammers may tell homeowners they need to pay a fee to be put on a list to have their homes repaired. Some ask for a payment to assure receiving FEMA assistance. In fact, there is never a charge for filling out a FEMA or SBA assistance application and all applications are evaluated using the same rules. No legitimate FEMA employees or contractors charge for any FEMA services, including damage inspections. In fact, FEMA or SBA representatives are not allowed to accept money under any circumstances.

Vermonters should also be aware that some swindlers who seek personal information or illegitimate payments may claim to be volunteers from charitable organizations.

Defrauders continue to invent new ways to swindle consumers. Recently, one created a Smartphone application for the Android operating system that purports to enable users to register for FEMA disaster assistance but, in fact, it does not.

Also, be aware of contractors who demand large up-front deposits to make repairs. Some may be scammers who then disappear. Others engage in price gouging on materials and stealing building supplies.

If you think you have been victimized by fraud or suspect fraudulent activity, please report it to the Vermont Attorney General’s office; telephone 802-656-3183. FEMA also maintains a disaster fraud hotline at 866-720-5721 for use by anyone wishing to report suspected incidents of fraud.

FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, disability, English proficiency or economic status. If you or someone you know has been discriminated against, call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-FEMA (3362). For TTY call 800-462-7585.



FEMA’s temporary housing assistance and grants for public transportation expenses, medical and dental expenses, and funeral and burial expenses do not require individuals to apply for an SBA loan. However, applicants who receive SBA loan applications must submit them to SBA loan officers to be eligible for assistance that covers personal property, vehicle repair or replacement, and moving and storage expenses.



SBA disaster loan information and application forms may be obtained by calling the SBA’s Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 (800-877-8339 for people with speech or hearing disabilities) Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET or by sending an e-mail to disastercustomerservice@sba.gov. Applications can also be downloaded from www.sba.gov or completed on-line at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/.

Sent: Sunday, September 04, 2011 1:13 PM
Vermont Disaster Survivors: Watch Out For Fraud

FEMA News Desk: 802-951-2700

VEM Mark Bosma: 800-347-0488

Joint Information Center
Burlington, VT

Release Date: 9/4/11

DR-4022-VT NR 003

###

If Your Well May Have Been Contaminated By The Recent Flooding...

The following press release is from the Vermont Department of Health:




Sent: Tuesday, September 06, 2011 11:24 AM

Subject: Department of Health Press Release

For immediate release:
September 6, 2011

Media Contact:
Vermont Department of Health
802-863-7281

After the Flood Safe Drinking Water Advisory
The following press release is from the Vermont Department of Health:

Vermont Department of Health offers free drinking water test kits (Kit A)

BURLINGTON – The Vermont Department of Health is offering free water test kits for residents with private drinking water wells that may have been contaminated with floodwaters.

“If your private drinking water well was covered with floodwater, is located very near a flooded area, or there is a change in quality – odor or taste – assume that it is contaminated, take all precautions and get it tested,” said Health Commissioner Harry Chen, MD.

Contact your Health Department district office or town health officer for a free test kit and disinfection instructions. Water samples must be submitted to the Health Department Laboratory according to instructions in the kit, and must be clearly marked “contaminated by flooding”. Be sure to write your name and address so that results will be mailed directly to you.

You can also order a test kit for a fee of $14 by calling the Vermont Department of Health Laboratory at 1-800-660-9997. A water test kit order form is also available at the Health Department website: http://healthvermont.gov/enviro/ph_lab/water_test.aspx

Drinking water safety guidance for wells affected by flooding:

Until a test confirms that your water is safe, boil water for one minute before use in drinking, cooking, making juice or ice, washing fruits and vegetables and brushing teeth.

Shower with caution when on a boil-water notice. Avoid getting water in eyes, mouth and wounds. Do not allow children to swallow bath water if on a boil-water notice.

If there is a smell of petroleum or fuel, do not drink or use water at all for cooking, bathing or washing. Use bottled water or water from a known safe source. Call 1-800-439-8550 for consultation and testing information.

Residents who get their drinking water from a public system should look for boil water or other instructions put out by their own system.

For more information about drinking water safety after a flood, go to the Health Department’s website anytime at www.healthvermont.gov or call the Health Department’s drinking water program at 1-800-439-8550 (toll-free) during regular business hours.

Follow us on Twitter and join us on Facebook for up-to-date news, alerts and health information.


# # #

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

STEPS TO APPLYING FOR FEMA ASSISTANCE

Vermonters recovering from the impact of Tropical Storm Irene in Chittenden, Rutland, Washington, Windham and Windsor counties can now apply for disaster assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Assistance for losses sustained anytime after the storm which began on August 27 may include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses and other programs to help recover from the effects of the disaster.
The original federal declaration issued had indicated that the incident period began on August 29. That has now been amended to include August 27-28. Also, an additional county, Windham, was designated as eligible for FEMA's Individual Assistance program today. "The people of Vermont are going through a tough time right now and we are here ready to help," said Federal Coordinating Officer Craig Gilbert. "FEMA may not be able to cover all expenses, but it can offer a good start on the road to recovery." Even those with insurance may be eligible for help from FEMA if their insurance policy does not cover all their needs.

This is how the process works:

Step 1: Register with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. There are several ways to register: Apply online anytime at http://www.disasterassistance.gov/. Call 800-621-FEMA (3362) or TTY at 800-462-7585. Those who use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS) may call 800-621-3362. The toll-free telephone numbers operate from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week until further notice. Multilingual operators are available to assist with the application process. By smartphone or tablet, use m.fema.gov, or for devices with Android operation systems, a FEMA App can be downloaded at market.android.com/details?id=gov.fema.mobile.android.

When applying for aid you will receive a nine-digit registration number that can be used for reference when corresponding with FEMA. It is helpful to have the following information handy: current telephone number; address at the time of the disaster and current address; Social Security number, if available; a general list of damages and losses; if insured, the name of insurance company, agent and policy number; and bank routing number for any direct deposit.

Step 2: Receive a property inspection. Within a few days after registering, eligible applicants will be telephoned to make an appointment to have their damaged property inspected. The inspectors, who are FEMA contractors and carry identification badges, visit to make a record of damage. They do not make a determination regarding assistance. There is no cost for the inspection.

Step 3: All applicants will receive a letter from FEMA regarding the status of their requests for federal assistance. Some will also receive an application for a low-interest disaster recovery loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration. Anyone who has questions about the letter from FEMA should call the helpliine (800-621-3362 or TTY, 800-462-7585). Those who receive an application packet from the SBA should complete and submit the forms. No one is required to accept a loan but submitting the application may open the door to additional FEMA grants.

FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards. Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, disability, English proficiency or economic status.

If you or someone you know has been discriminated against, call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-FEMA (3362). For TTY call 800-462-7585. FEMA's temporary housing assistance and grants for public transportation expenese, medical and dental expenses, and funeral and burial expenses do not require individuals to apply for an SBA loan. However, applicants who receive SBA loan applications must submit them to SBA loan officers to be eligible for assistance that covers personal property, vehicle repair or replacement, and moving and storage expenses. SBA disaster loan information and application forms may be obtained by calling the SBA's Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 (800-877-8339 for people with speech or hearing disabilities) Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET or by sending an e-mail to disastercustomerservice@sba.gov. Applications can also be downloaded from http://www.sba.gov/ or completed online at http://disasterloan.sba.gov/ele/.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Google Map of Irene Related Transportation Issues in Vermont

Please click here for the Vermont Department of Transportation website with twice-daily updated road conditions.

Post-Irene Information and Links

The Vermont Department of Libraries has a list of organizations and links of post-Irene information for libraries and for the public. It includes information for those affected and for those who want to volunteer. Please click here.