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FEMA assessing damage

County hoping for funding

This week a representative from FEMA is out in the field assessing what Mother Nature wrought last month. Whether that means the county will reap federal money later on is anybody’s guess.

But with the revised assessment of infrastructure damage in the county from the May 10 and 11 storms there’s a lot to see.

As of Tuesday morning there are 142 damaged or destroyed bridges at a permanent repair cost of $1.2 million. The landslide count is now at 102, up from 62 at a cost of $14.2 million and there are 209 bridges with debris either stuck underneath or at the entrances. Cost to clean that out is estimated at $418,000.

“We still have not completed the assessment of roadways, like shoulders washed out,” County Engineer Doug Cade said. “We are looking at some of the sites to determine if the sites could be eligible for federal funding. This is step one of four.”

Two weeks ago Cade had estimated repair costs at $5.7 million. Now that comes in at approximately $15.8 million.

Joining Cade in the field this week is John Saggesse, spokesman for FEMA Region 5, which takes in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota.

“FEMA is in Lawrence County at the request of Governor Kasich,” Saggese said. “We are here doing a preliminary damage assessment. Based on the information we help the state collect, the state will determine whether or not they need to request a major disaster declaration from the president.”

There are 21 counties in the state that are undergoing FEMA assessment.

“When a disaster declaration is made, it is made for a particular state, but it specifies the counties in that state,” Sagesse said. “This is a team effort done jointly by FEMA, the state and local officials. This is for public (infrastructure) assistance only.”

Saggese expects to be in the county through the end of the week.

“We will be here as long as it takes to get the job done,” he said.

Already the state has gotten funding from the Ohio Public Works Commission to repair a landslide on County Road 6. It will be used to repair a 550-foot section of roadway.

Also the county could get Federal Highway Administration money to repair landslides on County Road 4 and County Road 15.

“They are on the federal highway system,” Cade said. The estimated repair cost is $800,000.

This past Thursday a disaster declaration was made for the state by the U.S. Small Business Administration. This will now allow businesses and individuals to apply for low-interest loans to repair or replace property damaged in the storm.

Loans are available for homeowners for their property and renters may be eligible for personal property losses including automobiles. Businesses of any size may be eligible for property, inventories, supplies, machinery and equipment. Also businesses may apply for working capital loans.

Applicants must have an acceptable SBA credit history and be able to repay all loans. Collateral is mandatory for loss loans more than $14,000.

For more information contact the SBA customer service center at 800-659-2955.