Recovery in Wardsboro “has been a very long process, with an extensive amount of paperwork,” says Duane Tomkins, town FEMA coordinator.
“The biggest hurdle is trying to get these projects that were erroneously estimated by FEMA changed so that we can not only finish repairs, but also focus on mitigating future damage of high waters on the roads,” he says.
Four homes in Wardsboro were destroyed. Of those, three should qualify for the buyouts, while the owner of the fourth is considering demolition. But, according to Tomkins, “nothing has been finalized and the homeowner is still paying a mortgage on his second home which is essentially a piece of land with a porch on it.”
Approximately 80 percent of Wardsboro’s roads were affected, but within a month they were passable. There are still outstanding projects, several culverts that need replacing and a bridge that was undermined, but because Wardsboro is having to tangle with FEMA, proper compensation and further projects have been delayed. So far, according to Tomkins, FEMA assistance awarded to Wardsboro has been about $1.7 million; he hopes they will receive another $500,000 for the culvert work, but taxes will be affected.
How does Tomkins feel about the year anniversary?
“I have mixed feelings. It is a reminder of the devastation. We should be spending the energy on mitigating and lessening the impact of potential recurrences,” he adds, “September is National Preparedness Month.”