Natural Disasters

Red Tape Keeps Family in Limbo Over Storm-Ravaged House

The wages of looking to the government for assistance


BRATTLEBORO, Vt. -Valerie Walden and her family have lived in a trailer parked in her front yard for over a year now. When Tropical Storm Irene hit the house on Western Avenue in Brattleboro, rainwater ruined the roof and floodwater swept through the home's foundation.

"It got thrown up and through the foundation of the barn and into the house and so on," Valerie Walden said.

With insurance talks going nowhere, Walden decided to apply for FEMA's Hazard Mitigation Home Buyout Program, administered through the state. The town helped her write the application and recently she got good news: approval from both the state and the federal government.

"I was elated," she said. "I was like, oh thank God; we don't have to spend another winter because we just don't know how we are going to do it. And he's like well, not so fast, the town has some concerns."

"It is a complicated issue," said Patrick Moreland, the assistant town manager of Brattleboro. "There are a number of factors to consider."