RUTLAND Gov. Jim Douglas has requested a U.S. Federal Disaster Declaration from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) following heavy rain storms that hit Vermont two weeks ago. The request is for declarations in Addison and Franklin counties. Both areas suffered sufficient public infrastructure damage to meet the accepted threshold for federal assistance. If the Disaster Declaration is granted, Addison and Franklin counties would receive federal funds to repair public infrastructure damage; those funds would provide 75 percent of all costs to repair roads, bridges, public buildings, and other state and municipal holdings. Rutland County also suffered extensive damage during the heavy rains and ensuing flooding. Most of the damage was to private property so that area will not qualify for disaster assistance for public property damage. Instead, Rutland County qualified for Small Business Disaster Assistance in the form of low interest loans. Last week, the Small Business Administration granted a Disaster Declaration for Rutland County and the contiguous counties of Addison, Bennington, and Windsor. The SBA declaration allows private homeowners, renters, and businesses to apply for low-interest loans to help repair storm damage, pay for items lost in the floods, and in some cases, account for lost business during flood cleanup. The SBA has opened an office in Rutland City Hall for residents and businesses that suffered losses to apply for assistance. Impacted residents unable to visit the local SBA office can call 800-659-2955 for assistance.