FEMA gives guidelines to cities on funding

Friday, June 14, 2002

JACKSON, Mo. -- During the recent bout of flooding, Cape Girardeau suffered almost $200,000 in damage to its storm water and sewer systems as water cracked open sewer mains, left waterlines exposed from erosion and forced the city to pay its workers overtime to tackle emergency repairs.

Now the cash-strapped city -- and municipalities all over recently flooded Southeast Missouri -- are looking to recoup those costs from the federal government by meeting with officials Thursday to find out how to get the ball rolling.

"We don't have $200,000 just sitting around," said Cape Girardeau assistant city manager Walter Denton, who attended the briefing sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. "This offers us a chance to get back some of the money we've spent."

The information session, held at the Cape Girardeau County Administration Building, provided applications and walked area emergency and elected officials through the process of applying for federal aid. Officials from Scott, Bollinger and Mississippi counties also attended the meeting.

FEMA pays 75 percent of the damage to any public facility, including streets, bridges, water supply or sewage facilities, parks, airports or other public buildings, such as a city hall. It pays for damages not covered by insurance.

The state also picks up 10 percent of the costs, leaving local governments to bear 15 percent. The damage has to be a direct result of a natural disaster within a defined area.

While the emergency declaration also applies to tornado damage, most of the talk at the meeting was about damage caused by flooding.

In Cape Girardeau, Denton said the city is applying to repay some of the $192,000 spent on flood repair and cleanup.

The bulk of that -- about $125,000 -- was used to replace 200 feet of pipe on the south part of Cape La Croix Creek between Shawnee Park and Southern Expressway. The entire length of the 36-inch sewer main that is the primary feed to the city's sewer plant had to be replaced and the eroded bank around it needed stabilization.

"It was flowing directly into the creek and out into the river," Denton said. "We had to do that right away. It was an emergency."

Other costs the city paid were for overtime for its workers, as well as some erosion damage near the Bloomfield Road bridge. Waterlines were exposed by erosion in other places as well.

Fire chief and emergency operations director Brad Golden estimated Jackson had $14,000 in damage due to flooding. He said there was damage to 200 feet of fencing around the wastewater treatment plant, cleanup costs as well as overtime.

"We're hoping to get that money back," Golden said. "The majority of that was in the overtime. We had to call a lot of people back in to work. That's an expense, too."

Marble Hill city clerk Carolyn Surface said that 17 inches of water got into the town's city hall, possibly causing foundation damage.

"It's flooded twice and that's an old, old building," she said.

Surface said the city might use a FEMA provision to use any money the city might get and apply it to acquire a new city hall. She said she didn't know yet whether that meant a new building or an acquisition of a different building.

"We're talking with FEMA to see what we can do," she said.

Marble Hill also had street damage, much of which is going to have to be repaved, she said. She said the city hadn't prepared financial estimates yet, but was in the process of putting that together.

Government agencies have 30 days from June 11 to make their requests. Projects will be looked at by FEMA inspectors and after they receive their money, government agencies have six months to complete emergency work and 18 months to complete all other projects. If the work isn't completed in those time frames, local governments can apply for extensions.

smoyers@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 137

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