Scott County hopes for quick return on FEMA application

Thursday, March 5, 2009
KIT DOYLE ~ kdoyle@semissourian.com
Many roads in old town Sikeston have one lane that weaves through downed limbs on Wednesday, January 28, 2009, following winter storms Monday night and Tuesday night in southeast Missouri.

BENTON, Mo. — Scott County officials are hoping to get FEMA reimbursements quickly by filing quickly.

During their regular meeting Tuesday, county commissioners discussed reimbursements from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for costs incurred responding to and recovering from the January ice storm.

A briefing on FEMA's Public Assistance program for public entities was held by the State Emergency Management Agency Thursday at the Clinton Building in Sikeston.

"There was a lot of good information given at that FEMA meeting in Sikeston. They were very thorough," Commissioner Dennis Ziegenhorn said. "There's a lot of rules and regulations. ... They went through a lot of things you can and can't do."

The county has six months from the date of the disaster declaration to complete cleanup efforts and 18 months to complete work considered to be of a permanent nature, such as infrastructure restoration, but county officials are hoping to wrap things up much sooner.

The goal is to be finished "as soon as possible," Ziegenhorn said.

County Clerk Rita Milam agreed it is a good idea to "work as hard as you can to get it done really quickly." Milam said she has heard other counties are working to finish projects as soon as they can so they will be among the first to be reimbursed by FEMA.

Not filing for reimbursement until all the other government entities are also filing for their reimbursement can result in a long wait for the county to get its money, she said. New Madrid County is just now receiving reimbursement for costs incurred during last winter's ice storm, according to Milam. "That leaves a lot of money out there for a long time," Ziegenhorn said.

In other business Tuesday, Ziegenhorn said work by inmates from the Scott County Jail Monday at Veterans Park in Sikeston has made a significant difference.

"They really did a great job," he said. "It really looks nice."

Ziegenhorn said the county inmates may have even finished their work at Veterans Park and may be working on other Sikeston parks.

Inmates from the jail have also already put in 416 hours for the county highway department cleaning up limbs left by the ice storm, according to Ziegenhorn.

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