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Vt. gets extra time on flood funding

MONTPELIER — Vermont is in line to receive up to an estimated $4 million in additional funding to help reduce future flood damage, and communities have just over a month to apply for the money, which can be used for such projects as buying out flood-prone properties or replacing undersized culverts.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency granted the state an extension through Dec. 1 to apply for more funding. The state oversees the applications sent to FEMA and has set a Nov. 18 deadline for towns to file theirs.

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‘‘We literally have federal money burning a hole in our pocket and we have a very narrow window of time in which we have to spend it to qualify for even more money,’’ said Ben Rose, Emergency Management’s recovery and mitigation chief.

Since the remnants of Hurricane Irene devastated the state two years ago, Vermont has applied for about $30 million in FEMA hazard mitigation grants. The additional funding from the latest round of grants is expected to be $2 million to $4 million.

The program expired Sept. 1, but the state asked FEMA for a one-year extension. FEMA granted an extension until Dec. 1.

Since Irene hit, perhaps the most well-known use of the hazard mitigation money has been to buy homes that were destroyed or damaged by the flood and could not be repaired.

So far, FEMA has approved 97 property buyouts. Thirty have been completed.

‘We literally have federal money burning a hole in our pocket and we have a very narrow window of time in which we have to spend it.’

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‘‘The other 67 are somewhere in the process,’’ Rose said. ‘‘It’s a long process.’’

The money can also be used for projects such as raising buildings above the flood level or moving them out of the way. Hazard mitigation grants can also be used to help communities prepare disaster mitigation plans, and it’s not just for future floods.

The grants cover up to 75 percent of the costs associated with lessening the potential damage from a future flood.

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