County ice storm damage tops $3.4 million

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Barry County could receive over $3.4 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for storm recovery costs associated with the January ice storm.

Our initial damage assessment was $3.4 million in Barry County, said David Compton, Barry County emergency management director. Since not all of the projects have been completed, we do not have a total as of yet.

We had 35 jurisdictions apply for financial assistance to clean-up storm damage, said Compton. We will not have a break out of all of those jurisdictions and costs until the projects are nearer to completion.

In Barry County, all cities, road districts and other municipalities filed separate project worksheets for federal financial assistance.

The City of Cassville filed FEMA claims for debris pickup, city labor, road repairs and debris disposal. Claims totaled $18,940.66. FEMA will pay 75 percent of the financial assistance claim, which means the city should receive $14,205.50.

The State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) will pay an additional 10 percent of the claim. Cassville should receive around $1,894.07 from SEMA.

We filed four claims, which included a claim for repairs to a road at the Aquatic Park where our burn site was located, said Mike Hayslip, Cassville city administrator. We have received one check for $6,579.97 so far. We are expecting three more checks and 85 percent of our costs returned.

The City of Seligman will receive around $1,500 and the City of Washburn will receive around $1,800 for debris removal. Exeter will receive $10,596.52 and Wheaton will receive $12,800 for debris removal and tree trimming.

The City of Butterfield has received $17,098.46 from FEMA. The funds were reimbursement costs associated with incurred damages, emergency services, shelter services, clean-up and debris removal.

Purdy has received a check for $20,125.47 from FEMA. The reimbursement funds were associated with equipment usage, fuel costs, labor, clean-up and debris removal. Purdy is expecting two additional checks in the amounts of $8,769.35 and $1,743.29 for volunteer labor.

The City of Monett is expecting to receive around $400,000 for debris removal, emergency management, shelter services and winter weather road maintenance.

Barry Electric Cooperative has filed one of the largest claims for federal financial assistance in the county. The cooperative is expecting to receive over $700,000 in FEMA funds.

According to Bill Shiveley, Barry Electric chief executive officer, the cooperative has filed several claims for financial assistance. Under Category B, emergency measures, which covered costs associated with line work performed on Jan. 12, 13 and 14, the cooperative has filed a claim for $18,128.

In Category F, restoration of services, the cooperative has filed a $569,413 claim for work that has been completed. The cooperative has also filed a $340,760 claim for work that needs to be completed. These funds are estimated costs for tree trimming, replacing cracked poles and other repairs and maintenance that will need to be completed over the next year.

In order to file these claims, the cooperative was asked to gather time sheets that showed the hours each employee worked and the equipment they worked with, receipts for fuel, lodging and meals and either cancelled checks or copies of checks written for supplies used during storm recovery efforts.

In March, we had spent 285 hours putting the required information together, said Shiveley. We signed off on the project worksheet a week ago, so we have several additional hours from April to add to that.

The cooperative has also been asked to gather information about volunteer labor received during the storm recovery efforts in January. Barry Electric will not receive additional funding for volunteer labor, but the information will be considered during funding approval reviews.

The community turned out great to support us, said Shiveley. We really appreciate all the volunteers and what they did for us.

After FEMA approves Barry Electric s fund requests for work that needs to be completed, the monies will be sent to SEMA. As the cooperative completes projects it will need to apply to SEMA in order to receive the funds that have been approved.

We will have 18 months to finish the work that needs to be completed, said Shiveley. In filing the initial claim we had around 60 days to look over the whole system and decide what needed to be done. If we have additional expenses, we will need to file an amendment to our claim for additional funds.

In addition to the hours spent collecting information for FEMA, Barry Electric will need to complete revised work plan goals for the next few years.

This will make us a lot busier and force us to use more contract labor, said Shiveley. In 2008, we had planned to complete eight to 10 miles of conversion, but we will probably need to complete about twice that much now.

The additional repairs and maintenance projects could also double the cooperative s costs next year.

Although Barry Electric Cooperative covers a large portion of Barry County, Ozark Electric Cooperative serves some county residents. Ozark Electric Cooperative has applied for $595,542, which includes $137,815 for work yet to be completed.

As of April 17, more than $17 million of FEMA funds had been earmarked for Missouri due to damage incurred from winter storms over the last year.

FEMA has obligated more than $4.5 million to fund debris operations, which have included the pick up and disposal of more than six million cubic yards of tree limbs, branches and stumps broken by ice.

FEMA has also designated over $8.1 million for public utility companies working to repair and restore hundreds of miles of electrical distribution and transmission lines and repair and replace poles, cross arms, transformers, meters and other hardware.

In order to receive federal financial aide, municipalities were required to request public assistance through the Robert T. Stafford Act. Requests were then forwarded to FEMA, which assigned a public assistance officer to assist the municipality in gathering documentation to support the costs of eligible activities.

Public assistance officers reviewed information to determine preliminary eligibility and assisted municipalities in completing project worksheets, which were submitted to FEMA and SEMA.

(Financial assistance) is based on either actual costs or on FEMA-established cost codes, said Compton. All reimbursement is based on eligible and reasonable expenses. FEMA will not pay expenses that are not dependent on FEMA reimbursement.

Municipalities will usually receive reimbursements within one month of the submission of the project worksheet. If the project is over $59,700 then the costs may be reimbursed as eligible costs are incurred.

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