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County awaiting word on FEMA assistance

By Staff | Apr 23, 2009

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has given Category B approval to Pierce County, authorizing funds for such things as road barricades and sand bags, but it will take Category C approval, a Presidential declaration, before funds will be appropriated to pay a large sum toward road and culvert repairs.

Duane Veach, disaster emergency services coordinator for Pierce County, said a team of FEMA workers was in the county earlier this month assessing overland flooding damage to approximately 50 sites throughout the county. Most of them were flooded or washed out roads and culverts.

Veach said he’s been involved in processing paperwork for five previous disaster declarations in the county, and the damages he’s seen this spring are equal to, or greater than, those of past years.

The southern townships have been hit especially hard by excessive runoff from snow melt. That area received well-above-average precipitation this winter.

Many sections of roads have been closed, according to David Migler, District Five county commissioner. The poor road conditions have created hardships for some rural residents, who must drive extra miles to get to and from their homes.

FEMA will be back in Pierce County this week, Veach said, to fill out project worksheets for Category B – protective measure – designation. The paperwork will be filed, eventually allowing the county to receive federal funds to pay for costs involved in blocking off roads and sandbagging areIf a Presidential declaration is approved, up to 75 percent in federal funds would available to repair public infrastructure damaged by overland flooding. An additional 15 percent in state assistance would likely also be approved. The local share of repairs would be 10 percent.

Veach said in past years the state’s share of repairs has been as high as 20 percent.

If a Category C designation is approved, FEMA would then return to the county to complete damage assessments.

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