Common Legal and Benefits Issues After a Disaster Like Flooding

I have flood related problems. We're here to help! 1-800-889-2047

Updated 9/27/23

On this page we list benefits, recovery programs and common legal problems that can come up after a flooding disaster in Vermont with links to information and help. If you live in Vermont, contact us if you have questions. Tell us if your problem is due to the flooding disaster. We may not be able to directly help you, but we can point you to resources that can help.

Deadlines to note

  • ASAP — If you have insurance, contact your home/renter/flood/car insurers and file a claim because FEMA will need documentation of what insurance will not cover. Also apply for help from FEMA at the same time.
  • September 29, 2023, before 4 p.m. — Apply for Disaster Unemployment Assistance by this date — for all affected counties.
  • October 12, 2023 — Apply for FEMA assistance by this date. This is a new deadline — but don't wait to apply!
  • October 12, 2023 — If you apply for a SBA loan, apply by this date.
  • 60 days — Appeal any FEMA decision within 60 days of the date on the decision letter.

Flood-related pages on


Graphic says to contact us with disaster unemployment problems. Text description follows image.
Did you apply for unemployment because of the flood? Have you not gotten it yet? Or were you denied? Contact us — we may be able to help. More on Disaster Unemployment.

Graphic says to appeal FEMA decisions within 60 days. Text description follows image.
Got a decision from FEMA that you don't understand or don't agree with? Got less money than you need? These days, most people appeal decisions from FEMA to get a better award. It’s almost expected. Appeal any FEMA decision within 60 days. Get a sample letter and contact us for advice.

Graphic shows how to get money to fix home or replace stuff. Text description follows image.
Flooded? Get money to fix your home or replace your stuff. If you have insurance, submit a claim now. Also apply to FEMA now. Appeal any FEMA decision within 60 days. Apply for local grants and relief funds and other programs. File a 2022 or 2023 tax return to claim losses not covered by insurance, FEMA or grants.

Common legal problems that can come up after a flooding disaster:

  1. Finding emergency housing. For people impacted by recent flooding — or any Vermonter who needs emergency housing — call 1-800-775-0506 to find out about the General Assistance Housing Program (Hotel or Motel) for Catastrophic Need. If your application is denied, you have the right to appeal that decision. If you are denied or terminated from emergency housing, fill out our form and we will call you back. Or call us for help at 1-800-889-2047. Be sure to give us some details about your problem.
  2. Getting emergency benefits like 3SquaresVT (food stamps).
  3. Fill out this Vermont 211 form to report that you were impacted by the flooding. Note: You will still have to apply to FEMA. The 211 form collects info to show FEMA there is a need in Vermont. (If you are a business, fill out the business form.)
  4. Submitting insurance claims (flood, homeowners, car, renters’, medical, life, etc.) and appealing insurance payouts. Be sure to take photos to document the damage. Keep receipts on all expenses you had after the flood. Keep letters and notes on all your communications with the insurance company. If you have insurance, contact your home/renters/flood/car insurers and file a claim because FEMA will need documentation of what insurance will not cover.
  5. Applying for financial help and services from FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and appealing FEMA decisions. Keep receipts on all expenses you had after the flood. Be sure to keep all letters and documents you get from FEMA. See our FAQ.
  6. Renter / tenant rights after a disaster, including ending a lease, repairs, personal property damage, lockouts, abandoned property, evictions, etc. See our FAQ.
  7. Dealing with damaged mobile homes and mobile home parks.
  8. Home repair contracts and mobile home repair and demolition contracts. Before you hire a contractor, check Vermont's home improvement fraud registry web page. Build back stronger with FEMA Hazard Mitigation HelpLine: If your home was damaged, call 1-833-336-2487 to get advice on how to build your home back stronger and safer. Select #3 for Vermont. Or visit a Disaster Recovery Center. Experts will help any homeowner who asks, not just those dealing with damage from this year.
  9. Dealing with scams. Recently, the Attorney General's Office alerted folks to a utility disconnection scam in Vermont. Scammers demand payment along with threats to disconnect your utility. HANG UP and CALL your utility provider directly, using a number you know to be valid. There's also a Craigslist housing scam. Physically go to the place that is for rent before you hand over any money.
  10. Consumer rights issues.
  11. Mortgage and property tax problems, including avoiding foreclosure, delaying mortgage payments and property tax forgiveness.
  12. Replacing important documents destroyed in the natural disaster, such as deeds, identification, birth and marriage records, and the like.
  13. Understanding, applying for and accessing your public benefits. These include food stamps (3SquaresVT), welfare (ReachUp), social security disability, Medicaid, etc.
  14. Claiming disaster losses on your tax return and other tax relief, including tax deadlines and getting copies of past tax returns.
  15. Preparing guardianships and conservatorships.
  16. Referrals to local or state agencies which might offer more help (such as the Consumer Assistance Program of the Attorney General’s Office).
  17. Helping people with disabilities to get accessible housing, durable medical equipment (like wheelchairs), prescriptions, medical care, including mental health services, and accessible transportation.
  18. Helping people with disabilities who work or have their own business. Vermont Legal Aid's Client Assistance Program (CAP) helps people with disabilities who are trying to access help from HireAbility Vermont to get work, or start their own businesses. Because of the flooding, people with disabilities who were working or running their own businesses lost jobs and businesses. If this happened to you, and you want to know whether HireAbility Vermont could help you, or what rights you have to services and financial assistance, contact us and ask to speak with CAP.
  19. Helping children maintain their education.
  20. Employment issues, including applying for unemployment assistance, Disaster Unemployment Assistance, arranging family leave, etc.
  21. General real estate and title issues such as boundary lines.
  22. For the following issues, you may want to contact the Vermont Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service to consult with a private lawyer:
    • “Takings” such as the emergency relocation of a road onto a homeowner’s property.
    • Regulatory and permitting issues relating to damaged, destroyed or contaminated property.
    • Access to public infrastructure like roads, sewer, water, power, telephone services.
    • Hazardous waste spills/releases; contaminated property.
    • Estate administration such as insolvent estates.
  23. Business issues


Moved due to the flooding? Keep FEMA and other organizations up to date with your mailing address.

Important flood information and resources in Vermont

Financial help



Housing that flooded

General disaster help

Legal aid and legal services

Need help?

If you live in Vermont, contact us if you have questions. Tell us if your problem is due to the flooding disaster. We may not be able to directly help you, but we can point you to resources that can help.

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Updated: Sep 28, 2023