More than $1 million in federal disaster aid has been approved for eligible applicants in Vermont affected by the spring storms and flooding that occurred from April 23 to May 9.Since President Obama issued a major disaster declaration on June 15th for these storms in the counties of Addison, Chittenden, Essex, Franklin, Grand Isle, Lamoille, and Orleans, over 800 people have registered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).The grants include $1,050,536 in housing assistance, such as rental and home repair assistance, and $25,820 in other needs assistance, such as replacement of personal property.Caledonia and Washington counties recently received federal declarations on Friday, July 8, for storms and flooding that occurred May 26th to 27th.FEMA assistance to individuals and families may include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-interest loans to cover uninsured property losses and other programs to help individuals and families recover. Those who have experienced damage or loss from the flooding in the designated counties can register for disaster assistance at 800-621-FEMA (3362). Multilingual registration assistance is also available. Those with a speech disability or hearing loss who use a TTY can call 800-462-7585 directly, or 800-621-3362, if using 711 or Video Relay Service. Registration can also be done online anytime at www.DisasterAssistance.gov(link is external) or through web-enabled mobile phone devices at m.fema.gov.The following is a recap of activities and assistance provided by FEMA and its partners:Community Relations: To help identify and assist those who have flooding damage, FEMA Community Relations field specialists have visited more than 2,500 homes, businesses, local agencies and community-based organizations, and houses of worship, and reached out to local officials, the visually impaired, deaf and those with limited English proficiency.Disaster Recovery Centers: Currently, four DRCs are open throughout the state, where those with questions about assistance after the floods can visit with a federal recovery specialist face-to-face. Those looking for the nearest disaster recovery center can check online at https://asd.fema.gov/inter/locator/drcLocator.jsp(link is external) or call the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-FEMA (3362). Low-Interest Loans: The U.S. Small Business Administration offers low-interest, long-term disaster loans to homeowners and renters as well as businesses. Find more information at www.sba.gov(link is external). Job Loss Due To Disaster: You may be eligible for disaster unemployment assistance if the storms and flooding affected your ability to work. For more information call 877-214-3330 or visit www.labor.vermont.gov(link is external).Legal Services: If you need legal assistance with home repair contracts, insurance claims and other disaster-related issues, you can call 800-889-2047 for free legal advice. The service is a partnership between Vermont Volunteer Lawyers Project, the Vermont Bar Association Young Lawyers Division, the American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division and FEMA.FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, disability, English proficiency or economic status. If you or someone you know has been discriminated against, call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-FEMA (3362). For TTY call 800-462-7585. If you have a speech disability or hearing loss and use a TTY, call 1-800-462-7585 directly; if you use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 1-800-621-3362 FEMA’s temporary housing assistance and grants for public transportation expenses, medical and dental expenses, and funeral and burial expenses do not require individuals to apply for an SBA loan. However, applicants who receive SBA loan applications must submit them to SBA loan officers to be eligible for assistance that covers personal property, vehicle repair or replacement, and moving and storage expenses. SBA disaster loan information and application forms may be obtained by calling the SBA’s Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 (800-877-8339 for people with speech or hearing disabilities) Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET or by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org(link sends e-mail). Applications can also be downloaded from www.sba.gov(link is external) or completed on-line at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/(link is external).
In conjunction with the Vitebri School of Engineering, Mahta Moghaddam, a professor of electrical engineering, and her research team are working on new imaging and treatment for breast cancer through the use of microwaves.Breast cancer will affect one in eight women, and it is the second leading cause of death in women, according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation’s website. Though risk factors have been identified for breast cancer, researchers are usually unable to pinpoint a single cause of breast cancer.Research Assistant Professor John Stang, technical lead for the project, noted how past research showed opportunities to use microwaves to both treat and detect breast cancer. He has been working on this project for almost four years.“Our research started out of research that was done in the late ‘80s or early ‘90s, showing contrast that existed in the microwave properties of breast cancer,” Stang said.He stressed how breast cancer research is often motivated by emotional intentions.“Everyone has their own personal relationship with breast cancer, so I think that’s also part of the appeal [of the project],” Stang said.Stang explained exactly how this new system is utilizing microwaves.“The system that we are working on now is a combined imagery and therapy system. It is using microwaves, a single modality to do both the image guidance and the therapy,” Stang said.This new system is proving to be a pioneering technology in the breast cancer field.“There currently aren’t any systems like that that are using a single modality to guide the focused heating,” Stang said.The team wants to be able to “cook” the cancerous tissue instead of having to surgically remove it. This will, in turn, reduce the recovery time.“The system started out as independent projects where we were doing microwave imaging,” Stang said. “The idea was to have an alternative to mammograms.”The team was motivated to provide an alternative as current mammograms use ionizing radiation, which their innovative cancer treatment would not.Microwaves are much safer than ionizing radiation, and there would be no pain or discomfort involved with the procedure since the breasts would not need to be flattened as they are in current mammograms. Instead, patients would lie down with their breasts placed in two imaging tunnels.In addition to Viterbi, the researchers will also work with the Keck School of Medicine and Dr. Eugene Chung, an M.D. who focuses more on the medical aspect of the project.Currently, the researchers have created a “laboratory prototype,” but this prototype cannot be used in a clinical setting.“We have explored contracting out a building of something that would be manufactured with a company with medical history,” Stang said. “It is more advantageous to go through a company that has the experience and the track record.”The laboratory is currently in conversation with a company in order to create the prototype.The clinical prototype will have amplifiers that lead to several antennae aimed at various angles. These antennae will allow the device to focus the microwaves on specific parts of the breast tissue, allowing the researchers to cook the cancerous tissues the way that a microwave cooks food.Stang hopes a prototype will be ready for use in a clinical setting in the next few years.