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FEMA review continues

First funds expected soon

Two months after FEMA investigators started appraising the massive damage done to the infrastructure of the county this spring, the initial funding OK is expected soon.

“We expect to get work approved in the next couple of months,” County Engineer Doug Cade said.

Following the spring rains that washed out bridges and caused landslides across the county, the engineer’s office declared there were almost 600 sites in the county it sought FEMA money for in order to make permanent repairs. At that time damage tally stood at 102 landslides, 119 bridges washed out and 249 bridges with debris underneath that must be removed to prevent additional decay of the structures.

Each one had to be physically reviewed by a FEMA representative before the county could get approval for funding. By mid-August there were only six of those sites that have been appraised.

However, right now FEMA is between 60 and 70 percent completed with the review process, according to the engineer.

“(The state EMA) is starting to approve projects that are Category C or permanent repairs to roads and bridges,” Cade said. “Once that happens federal funds will be coming in.”

Those funds will reimburse the county for up to 75 percent of the actual cost to do the work. And on small projects the county can get funding as soon as those are completed.

Overall now the county engineer’s estimate for all infrastructure repairs is approximately $16 million. Of the remaining approximately $3 million, the state will pick up half of that.

However none of those state funds will come into the county until all the projects are completed, which Cade estimates could take more than 18 months.

That means the county engineer’s office will initially have to take out a loan for the 25 percent difference.

After the state and federal reimbursements come in, the county’s portion will come from the engineer’s Motor Vehicle Gas Tax Budget.

“We have gone ahead and started working on the landslides,” Cade said. “Most of that will be done with internal forces.”

Right now Cade estimates that just under 10 percent of the repair work has been completed.