FEMA Approves First Buyouts For People Who Lost Homes To Floods

08/01/12 10:45AM By Steve Zind

AP/Toby Talbot
Michelle Burch cleans out her grandfather's home in Bethel last August after the Tropical Storm Irene floods.

The first applications for the flood buyout program for homeowners have been approved by FEMA. 

Vermont Hazard Mitigation Officer Ray Doherty says five out of nearly 100 applications for homeowner buyouts under the FEMA program were approved this week.  

Those homes are in Grafton, Granville and Bethel. 

The next step is for the state Department Of Public Safety to issue hazard mitigation grant agreements to the towns. 

Then towns and the homeowners will have to sign a purchase and sale agreement, after which the homeowners will be issued a check. 

Doherty says this part of the process could take several more weeks.  He says the remaining buyouts will be approved in batches.

"The bulk of them we expect to be approved by this month, August. Some will likely come through in September," Doherty said.

He says the buyout program is a complex and time consuming process that requires copious documentation, site visits and environmental and historic preservation reviews.  But other factors have also slowed the approval process.

"Some of the delays are due at the FEMA end," he said. "There's only one gentleman that's doing all of these reviews for Vermont, Massachusetts and Connecticut. So, in addition to Vermont he's got two other states to do."

Doherty says the FEMA Hazard Mitigation approvals for Vermont homeowners have actually come through faster than they do in most states.

The buyouts being approved include homes damaged in both last year's spring flooding and the floods from Tropical Storm Irene.

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