County will get some FEMA money

Published 12:31 am Thursday, April 30, 2009

Covington County could recover as much as 85 percent of the estimated $3.9 million in damages it sustained during recent flooding, County Engineer Darren Capps said Wednes-day.

Tues-day, President Barack Obama declared a federal disaster emergency for 20 Alabama counties, including Covington County, that were battered by storms from March 25 through April 3.

As a result, the county can now receive help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Through public assistance, FEMA would cover 75 percent of the cost for debris removal, emergency protective measures and the repair, replacement or restoration of publicly owned roads and bridges that were damaged.

“We’ve been notified that we will have a meeting Wednesday (May 6) at 1 p.m. in the commission chambers with representatives from FEMA,” Capps said. “They will answer any questions and describe how everything is going to work.”

Capps said the FEMA representatives would then spend several days riding the county’s roads and making a thorough inspection of areas damaged during the storms. FEMA will also take into account repairs the county has already made toward some areas, and make note of those improvements — and their costs — in the final report.

Capps said it should take about two weeks from the May 6 meeting date for the county to receive the FEMA funds. Those funds will be used toward both existing improvements and needed future improvements to public infrastructure.

“FEMA will typically pay about 75 percent,” he said. “Back during (Hurricane) Ivan (in 2004), they actually paid 90 percent and the state paid 10; but that’s rare. The state, in the past, has paid for 10 percent, but we don’t know if that is true right now.”

Capps further detailed the process leading up to Obama’s declaration Tuesday.

“The state EMA comes in first and tries to get an estimate on the damage,” he said. “Then they’ll look at that amount, and if it’s high enough, then the FEMA folks will come down and make sure there’s enough damage for the declaration. At that point, the FEMA contacts Washington and it’s just a matter of waiting to see if the declaration is made.”

Capps said FEMA estimated the county received $3.9 million in damages, but that amount could change based on the thorough review later this month.

“We may not get as much, or we may get more,” he said. “We just don’t know until we actually go out and ride each road and look at each (damage) site. The last time they came here, it was just preliminary and they only took a sampling; this time will be much more thorough.”