Home News and Features FEMA Opens Washington County Disaster Relief Office

FEMA Opens Washington County Disaster Relief Office

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The SBA set up an emergency field office at the Vermont Chamber of Commerce building in Berlin. Photo by John Lazenby
The Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Small Business Administration have opened a temporary aid center in Berlin and Waterbury to provide disaster relief information and funding to flood survivors in designated Vermont counties (Caledonia, Chittenden, Lamoille, Orange, Rutland, Washington, Windham, and Windsor). Aid through FEMA is primarily for residential properties; the SBA offers loans to businesses.

“We encourage all the business owners, homeowners, and renters to come,” said Alfredo, a customer service representative who declined, by what he said was FEMA policy, to provide his last name. “They may give you some aid only for going through this event.” He said that even if there was no direct physical damage, loss of work or potential business may be considered.

Fill Out an Application Soon

Applications for FEMA and SBA assistance must be completed by their respective deadlines: FEMA applications are due within 60 days of the disaster, but could be extended to 90 days.. The SBA physical damage deadline is September 12, 2023, and the SBA economic injury deadline is April 15, 2024.

FEMA recommends that everybody in the declared disaster area apply for a FEMA registration number before the deadline. After getting a registration number, the application can be updated any time for disaster-related problems; for example, if mold or future health issues crop up later. FEMA officials said applicants should keep inventories, receipts, and photos when possible, but an itemized list isn’t always necessary.

SBA officials meet with people impacted by July’s historic flooding at the agency’s temporary location at the Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce building in Berlin. Photo by John Lazenby
Money from FEMA does not need to be taken if offered. “If they apply for it, they don’t have to take a dollar,” said Alan, a FEMA customer service representative. He recommends getting the paperwork done. “At least in the future, you can make a decision if something happens,” he said. Even if an application was started online, it can be completed or added to in person..

FEMA is working on opening a local disaster recovery center this week that will haveequipment such as printers. The temporary location in Berlin may close when a more permanent center opens.

No Grants for Businesses

Montpelier Alive  has been told to send all small businesses to the SBA portal rather than to the one for FEMA for disaster relief. Montpelier Alive said “there is still no evidence of grant funding for small businesses,” but FEMA representative Kim said “there could be grants,” and that it’s “case by case, disaster by disaster.”

The city of Montpelier has released a statement saying FEMA agents will be doing community outreach and providing information to citizens on how to register. FEMA agents, in blue uniforms, may be around town, the release said. 

FEMA opened a multi-agency resource center on Barre Auditorium hill on July 15, but they do not have scheduled hours there. The Salvation Army, Red Cross, and others are also based out of that center.

FEMA will also hold a town hall meeting from 5-7 p.m. Monday, July 24, at the Barre Opera House to answer questions about disaster relief. A Zoom link will be made available on the Barre City flood page.

The Barre Congregational Church will be opening a FEMA Application Workshop to provide assistance on completing the forms beginning July 24, every Monday and Wednesday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., at 35 Church Street in Barre. The church is seeking volunteers, and can be reached at 802-476-3065 or at bccuccoffice@gmail.com

Fraud Alert

FEMA warns flood victims of scammers who may be pretending to be FEMA representatives and asking for personal information or money. Citizens should ask to see a FEMA representative’s official identification. FEMA also recommends using its disaster fraud hotline (866-720-5721), and making sure to check email addresses for any misspellings, hover over links to see their URL before clicking, and use official emails and phone numbers.

FEMA and the SBA are not the only options for emergency relief. Montpelier Alive Executive Director Katie Trautz said flood relief funds developed by Montpelier Alive and the Montpelier Foundation will begin distributing funds “in the near future,” possibly this week. Governor Scott said the Vermont Strong license plate program is returning, to help raise funds.

Applications

FEMA online application, or at 1-800-621-3362

SBA online application: or at 800-659-2955

Find Disaster Recovery Center Locations

The Small Business Administration is set up at the Vermont Chamber of Commerce, 751 Granger Road in Berlin; the FEMA and SBA offices are down the hall from each other. The center is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday through Saturday. Apply in person with service representatives, on the phone, or online. FEMA is also set up at the Waterbury Armory, 294 Armory Drive in Waterbury.

FEMA and SBA Information

Flood Assistance Handout for Individuals and Businesses

SBA Fact sheet

Additional Resources:

FEMA: Starting Your Recovery After a Flood

Montpelier Alive flood resource page

DWP weekly newsletter

Disaster unemployment assistance

Disaster planning resource

FEMA Flood Insurance Program

National Flood Insurance Program and Claims Handbook

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