The Federal Emergency Management Agency has declined to extend the period of covered flood damage beyond the declared disaster dates of April 26 through May 8.
The state has requested the period be extended from April 3 through May 30. FEMA's denial means damage that came later, such as from flash floods that hit several Essex County towns around Memorial Day weekend, will not be covered.
"It's unfortunate," said Essex County Board of Supervisors Chairman Randy Douglas, D-Jay. "We have numerous towns hit during the second round of spring flooding. ... We need help. Unfortunately, Washington is not hearing it."
Heavy rains in late May led to hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of additional damage to infrastructure in Jay, Wilmington and Moriah. This is on top of the damage a month before, when heavy rains and snowmelt combined to cause record flooding throughout the area.
The federal government has declared Essex and Franklin counties a disaster area, making them eligible for aid to help repair infrastructure damaged between April 26 and May 8. Also, some farms and businesses qualify for low-interest loans to help with damage.
However, an application for individual assistance for flood-damaged homes and businesses has been denied twice. An application for participation in a low-interest loan program for homeowners is still pending.
Douglas wondered how his town would absorb the cost of the damage, given the recently passed 2 percent property tax cap and that there was also flooding in Jay in March due to ice jams on the AuSable River.
"Our small $2 million budget can't absorb all this cost," Douglas said. "We're running out of options here."