Weather damage now totals millions

Published 9:25 am Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The rains came quick and hard, leaving a multimillion-dollar price tag in repairs and cleanup for the county.

County Engineer Doug Cade estimates permanent repairs to roads and bridges to reach $5.7 million, about $1.4 million over the engineer office’s annual budget of $4.3 million. Right now it appears that it could be the county’s responsibility to pick up those costs.

Cade was told there wasn’t any money in the state’s emergency management agency budget for public assistance and the county has not yet become eligible for federal EMA funds.

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“We have to live within our means,” Cade said. “We have to do the best we can with the resources. We prioritize and use our own forces and do the best job we can with limited resources.”

As of Thursday all of the 16 damaged bridges have been patched.

“I can’t say completely repaired,” he said. “We’ve got them patched, using stone to patch them.”

Now county crews are inspecting the undersides of the bridges for woody debris that could create additional hazards.

“If we have another flood, as it starts decomposing it speeds up the deterioration of that bridge,” Cade said.

Complicating the repair process has been that one-third of the office’s heavy equipment was out of operation for a while.

“It did slow us down to some degree,” he said. “My guys worked hard with the equipment they had.”

Next on the list for county crews is work on the 62 landslides that shut down township and county roads.

“We have been repairing some landslides with a temporary fix until they stabilize,” Cade said. “We will place stone because these landslides are so active we are better off paying $15 a ton to keep them passable to stabilize them with stone instead of putting out $63 a ton of asphalt and end up losing the asphalt. We have to get our landslides stabilized before we do a permanent repair.”

The majority of the landslides have come not from mud and debris covering the roadway but from the actual road sliding away. County crews had planned to spend this week repairing roads where culverts had washed out from past rains. Instead they will be cleaning up from the May 10 deluge.

“We are going to be in recovery mode for several weeks,” Cade said.