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Governor requests federal disaster aid

Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas has sent a letter to the president requesting a federal disaster declaration for Vermont as a result of rainfall, heavy snow and excessive winds from the April 2007 Noreaster that caused extensive utility and road damage throughout the state. Vermont's congressional delegation also sent a letter to the president in support ofthegovernor's request. Douglas said the current estimated damage from the NorEaster is more than $2 millionfar exceeding the $1 million threshold required to trigger federal assistanceand a declaration from the president would expedite delivery of federal recovery funds. On April 17, 2007. I requested a joint federal, state and local survey of the damaged areas, the governor wrote in his letter. Preliminary assessments by state and local officials indicated the most severe impacts were to town and state roads that were either covered with debris from falling trees or washed our by flash floods, the governor continued. I have determined that this incident is of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the state and affected local governments and supplementary federal assistance is necessary. Douglas went on to cite the many challenges posed by the storm, including extended power outages and the need for temporary shelters in many communities, as examples of why Vermont qualifies for federal Section 406 assistance in the counties most severely damaged by the storm. He is also asked that federal Hazard Mitigation Grants be available on a statewide basis. Counties most severely impacted by the Noreaster include Bennington, Caledonia, Essex, Orange, Rutland, Windham and Windsor. In addition, I anticipate the need for grant assistancefor the removal of debris that poses an immediate threat to lives, public health and safety, the Governor wrote. The governor also noted that the storm stretched the capacity of public safety personnel. Many fire crews and police officers worked shifts that in some cases stretched over multiple operational periods with few opportunities to rest, the governor wrote to the president. I am proud to report that due largely to their efforts, not a single life was lost or serious injury sustained during after the storm. This request for federal assistance follows the governors April 17 emergency declaration for all counties of Vermont. The governors declaration expedited the arrival of utility crews from other states and Canadian provinces to assist with restoring power and formed the basis for an application for federal disaster relief funding.

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