The repair work is largely wrapped up, but the paperwork isn't.

Norwich awaits federal repayment for 2017 storm damage

Submitted a month ago
Created by
Mark Travis

Nearly 18 months after the July 1, 2017, deluge that caused extensive road damage in Norwich, the town continues to await compensation from the federal government for the cost of repairs.

The bill now stands at $3.06 million, Finance Director Roberta Robinson reported to Town Manager Herb Durfee earlier this month. It will rise as additional bills from the engineering firm Pathways Consulting come in and from fixing another site next summer, Robinson said in an interview.

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The town paid initial bills by borrowing from itself -- drawing on reserve funds with the intent of restoring that money when federal emergency relief aid came through. That hasn’t happened yet. So the town has also opened a $4 million line of credit with Mascoma Savings Bank.

So far the town has borrowed $900,000 from the bank. Interest on the initial loan of $300,000 alone amounts to $13.33 per day, Robinson said.

Once repayment is approved, FEMA will cover 75 percent of the total bill, and its Vermont state counterpart an additional 12.5 percent. The town will be responsible for the balance -- as well as the interest costs.

Robinson said that FEMA repayment following Hurricane Irene in 2011 came much more quickly. Irene did less damage in Norwich than the July 1 storm, which FEMA refers to not by name but by a case number: DR 4330.

The federal review of the July 1 repair bills has been exhaustive. The town was recently asked to identify the source of thirty cubic yards of recycled gravel used in one repair, Robinson said. The cost of that load: $450. 

Jeff Durell, a project engineer with Pathways Consulting, has been working with FEMA on behalf of the town, Robinson said. She said she’s not aware of a deadline for FEMA to complete its review.

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