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Friday, December 2, 2011

Local Government Throws A ‘Curve’ At Vermont Irene Victims

Local Government Throws A ‘Curve’ At Vermont Irene Victims

“Oh, By The Way...You Need Permits Now”

By Dell Hill

I had hoped to have a major update to post concerning the massive and on-going recovery that Vermonters are experiencing following the nearly billion dollars in damage from Tropical Storm Irene.  Regular readers of this blog are aware of the previous posts on this subject; especially as the recovery process has affected my niece and her family in Waterbury, Vermont.  If not, you can catch up by clicking here and here.

Meanwhile, Burlington TV station Fox News 44 Now, has an update that has had the effect of pouring water on a drowning man.

“There are growing concerns for some people in Waterbury who are still rebuilding after Irene.  Many are questioning why the town waited so long to tell them they needed permits for repairs.  Now, some may have to spend even more money.

Life is getting back to normal for the Kadric family.  Three months ago, Tropical Storm Irene practically ripped apart their Waterbury, Vermont home.

Signs of progress are everywhere, now.  A new floor was installed, there's heat again, and the house has been completely re-wired.  Through it all, money has been extremely tight.

That's why the family was so shocked in late November when they got a letter from Waterbury saying they might have to redo some of the work they've already paid for.

About 100 other homes in Waterbury's flood zone were damaged by Irene.  All of them need permits for repairs.  However, the majority do not have their permits in place.

Steve Lotspeich, with community planning, says the town tried to get the word out as soon as it could, but the department had some major hurdles following the storm.  "Our municipal building was flooded and our zoning administrator had resigned just before the flood," he told us.

He says most people have been understanding about the delay, but many are left wondering where the money will come from to bring their homes up to code.  "FEMA still has a presence in the community and there are a lot of resources out there," he said.

He says it's important for every home in the flood zone, that was damaged, to have a permit since that helps lower the cost of flood insurance.”

As you read, my niece’s family is just one of about a hundred such families in Waterbury that sustained considerable damage.  There are a LOT of people in the very same dire predicament.

In my niece’s case, a permit to completely rebuild a new home to replace her completely flooded out former residence was obtained before the construction began.  A very, very wise move on her part and that possible need for local permits was discussed and agreed to almost from day one.  

However, she was required to file for what’s called a “variance” to the existing local ordinance(s) so as to build the new home about four feet higher than the previous structure.  I guess the local authorities are concerned that the new home might be tall enough to interfere with local airline traffic landing at Burlington, Vermont - about 30 miles to her northwest.  (The previous sentence is sarcasm...I just couldn't resist.)

And “this just in” - just as I was about to post this piece, I got word that the variance has been granted, so there will be no additional legal expenses to “fight city hall”.  Whewwww!  Dodged another bullet there.

The very latest news is good.  The new home has all been thoroughly insulated and the plumbers and electricians are slated to make their major hookups over the next couple of days.  Family members in Texas supplied the gift of an entire set of kitchen appliances and that shocked my niece right into tears (again!).  As soon as the dry wall work is completed and a fresh coat of paint is applied, those appliances will be installed.  They have a need for one more bedroom set, but I have a little surprise in store for them on that front, let’s keep that little secret between you and me, OK?

December 7th will be “Day 100” in the recovery process and the principals are weary, but no-where near broken.  With Christmas just days away, what they’ve accomplished is - as my sister correctly observed - “nothing short of a miracle”.

Tina & Charlie Say "THANK YOU"!

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