National Guard units from Vermont and seven other states, including Maine and New Hampshire, helped respond to Tropical Storm Irene when it caused widespread flooding in the state in late August. The state Agency of Transportation had asked the Federal Highway Administration for $4 million to reimburse the guard for help with transportation infrastructure repairs — but the request was initially denied. Governor Peter Shumlin says the state had to pay the National Guard for the cost of expenses and borrowed equipment.
Governor Shumlin believes the initial decision by the Administration was based on traditional Guard functions during disasters.
Vermont Transportation Secretary Brian Searles says the did substantial work that was critical to storm recovery.
Secretary Searles says the reimbursed funds will be used for further Irene recovery efforts.
The decision by the Federal Highway Administration sets a precedent that impacts all states. In an e-mail to WAMC. the federal Agency says the original guidelines were “unclear and created confusion” and due to the Vermont DOT pursuing clarification they have now “...stated clearly that the National Guard is eligible for reimbursement .....for performing emergency work that does not receive other federal assistance.”