Damages at $1.8M in county

Published 11:59 pm Friday, April 3, 2009

Covington County emergency management officials are estimating $1.8 million in damages from the heavy rain and high winds from the recent severe weather.

“And that’s just a preliminary figure. We haven’t finished adding yet,” said county EMA director Kristi Stamnes Friday.

State EMA officials, along with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) representatives, will travel to Covington County Tuesday to finalize the figure, which only includes costs associated with 33 local roadways in need of repairs.

“It’s just roads and culverts that would get roadways back open,” she said. “With that preliminary number, it looks like we will qualify for public assistance, and when we say that, it means to help cities and towns fix the roads back. We are still waiting to hear final approval from FEMA for individual assistance.”

Earlier this week, Gov. Bob Riley declared 11 counties — including Covington — as disaster areas. Friday, he amended the list to include Autauga, Bullock, Choctaw, Pike, Marengo, Perry and Wilcox counties.

By amending the proclamation, the governor authorizes the state EMA to assist communities, make the appropriate assessments of damage and seek state and federal assistance for the new affected areas.

To qualify for public assistance from FEMA, the state must sustain at least $5 million in damages.

“Just between us, Geneva and Clark Counties, we should have ($5 million),” Stamnes said. “A lot more were declared, but those four alone should meet the threshold amount.”

Anyone who has not reported damage sustained during recent severe weather is urged to contact the local EMA office at 334-427-4911.

“It is not too late to report damage, and it doesn’t have to be structural damage,” she said. “It could be barns, sheds — any type of outbuilding. Everything that is reported is going to help get the numbers up there.”

While Covington County was not hit Thursday with the expected heavy rains, high wind and possible tornado, Stamnes said the threat of severe weather should still be on people’s minds.

“We also want to remind residents we are in the heart of severe weather season and we are experiencing a heightened potential for tornadoes and flooding,” she said. “It is really important to be prepared; for more information log on to www.ema.alabama.gov.”