County still waiting on FEMA

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 22, 2010

­The county is still awaiting word on when – or if – FEMA funding for an estimated $6 million in damages resulting from December flooding will arrive.

More than 60 local roadways suffered damages as rains caused flooding, road closures and bridge damages this December – a situation of natural disaster that is similar across the nation, as is the need for funding to repair those damages, county engineer Darren Capps said.

“It’s not just us that’s waiting on (Federal Emergency Management Agency) funding,” Capps said. “It’s the whole nation. Even though, in our case, we’ve written up our project worksheets showing what money we’re going to get, it’s not been appropriated.

“FEMA is supposedly broke and has no funds to give anyone,” he said.

FEMA officials have announced the agency was running out of money after responding to 18 natural disasters in 16 states in March, when the House voted to give the agency an additional $5.1 billion. Since then, winter storms and flooding have led to disaster declarations in 17 states.

Attempts to win support for additional funding have been unsuccessful, and a currently proposed bill that would release FEMA funds is attached to a funding bill for the Afghanistan war.

But while the county is waiting for funding for December damages, Capps said money has been received to repair an estimated $3.9 million in damages from March 2009, when heavy rains caused flooding and road damages.

“We’re not dwelling on money for the December damages,” Capps said. “We’re working mainly (to repair) March damages. We have money for that, so that’s what we’re focusing on.

“We’ve got enough work there to keep us busy for at least a year,” he said. “We’re going to wait and see about December (damages and funding). We’ve got March, so we’ve got to use that money.”

Capps said that “March” funding has recently been used to upgrade Prestwood Bridge Road, which is about 85 percent complete; Bay Branch Road, Ray Roberts Road, a bridge on Clark Road and several Opp projects. Next on the repair list is Wiggins Farm Road, he said.

“What people should be seeing is an overall improvement to the roads we’re working on,” he said. “We’re rebuilding these roads back better than they were, and if you’ve ridden on any of them lately, you’ll appreciate it.”