Cities learn how to apply for FEMA aid

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Leaders from municipalities throughout Covington County met with Federal Emergency Management Agency representatives for the first time Tuesday, to learn how to obtain disaster aid that could help pay for damages sustained during December’s floods.

Representatives from Andalusia, Florala and Gantt, as well as some from the county engineer’s office, attended the day’s meeting headed by Michael Johnson of the state EMA office.

“The purpose of this assistance is not to be used to make the damaged area whole again, it’s supplemental to both state and local assistance,” Johnson said. “We’re here to help with this process.”

Rainfall, which began Dec. 12 and continued for nearly a week, wreaked havoc throughout the county, causing flooding and an estimated $6 million in damages to roads and bridges.

Local municipalities also suffered extensive damage to roads and streets.

Through FEMA’s public assistance program, which only covers damages to roads and bridges, 75 percent of the repair cost is covered. The state is eligible for 10 percent and local government is responsible for the remaining 15 percent.

Local governments can qualify for funding two ways: under the small project category, which encompasses projects $63,200 or less in cost, or under the large project category, which covers projects greater than $63,200.

“These eligible costs must be reasonable and necessary to accomplish the work,” Johnson said.

Johnson also informed the local leaders on the necessary steps to apply for funding, as well as how to create project worksheets — or a “repair plan” and its associated costs — for damaged areas. Finally, he informed them of the timeframe in which funding is released.

State and federal EMA representatives will now schedule “kick-off meetings” with each municipality to begin the recovery process.

Johnson said project worksheets must be submitted within 60 days of each kickoff meeting. Work must be completed within 18 months; however, extensions are available.