Road districts await funding for flooding repairs

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Around four months after heavy flooding impacted much of southern Barry County, area road districts are still waiting for project funding and reimbursements from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

According to Cherry Warren, Barry County presiding commissioner, roadways located in nearly a dozen districts were damaged by spring flooding. The Sugar Creek and Shell Knob road districts were two of the hardest hit areas.

"The Shell Knob Road District had substantial damage," said Warren. "They had a large cave-in on old Highway 39.

"Another big one was Sugar Creek," said Warren. "They sustained a lot of damage down Butler Hollow."

Warren said that road districts were required to have at least $1,000 in damages to apply for FEMA funding. Many of the districts have already completed repairs and are waiting for reimbursements.

"The county commission is responsible for the bridges and the Liberty Road District, which is a common road district," said Warren. "We applied for funding for repairs that were completed in the Liberty Road District and kept our application open to make sure everyone else was able to get funding for their repairs, but all of the districts were able to file their own applications."

Connie Lloyd, Sugar Creek Road District commissioner, said that much of the damage caused by the May flooding was repaired this summer.

"We had a one-half mile portion of road that was totally gone," said Lloyd. "But our largest damage was in Butler Hollow where the creek runs along the old railway.

"There is a bank there that is around 12 to 15 feet tall," said Lloyd. "It has never washed out, but this year, the waters came right through it. The roadway is the bottom of the creek now."

The Sugar Creek Road District commissioners have been working with FEMA to secure funding for the repair project, which is estimated to cost around $300,000.

"We can't afford to fix it ourselves," said Lloyd. "We will need to hire contract labor for the project. We will need someone who has dozers and other equipment to fix it. It is way too much work for us."

Residents who live in eight homes in the area have been forced to drive through fields and take detours through Eagle Rock in order to get to work each day, said Lloyd.

The Shell Knob Road District is hoping to receive funding for three large repair projects. Around $11,000 in damages occurred on Big Creek Road, and around $16,000 in damages occurred on Farm Road 2130, which is known as Airport Road.

"We repaired one area," said Merlyn Haubein, Shell Knob Road District commissioner. "On Airport Road we had damage under the bridge. We poured concrete for that repair. We didn't want to just replace it as it was. We replaced it where hopefully it will never happen again."

The Shell Knob Road District's largest damage was on old Highway 39. Around 240 square feet of roadway was washed out in that area.

"We have not done anything there," said Haubein. "It is estimated that those repairs will cost anywhere from $70,000 to $200,000. FEMA has told us that we are third on the list right now. We are hoping to hear something in the next week or two."

Haubein said that the road district will likely receive reimbursement funding for the project in installments as the repairs are completed. The district could be required to pay some of the initial repair costs before any funding is received, he said.

"This is 75/25 percent match funding," said Haubein. "If the project is $200,000, we will have some difficulty coming up with just the 25 percent to complete the repairs. The county commission does maintain a mitigation fund though, so we are hoping they will be able to help us out."

The Shell Knob Road District bids all of its projects. In April, the district approves a bid for asphalt and gravel work completed throughout the year. The repair projects will be bid separately.

Although there was extensive damage in several areas of the county this year, the flooding that occurred in May was not as costly as the damages that occurred in 2008, said Warren.

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