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Ohio gets disaster declaration: Ironton mayor says city applying for FEMA funds

Ironton Mayor Katrina Keith is happy with an announcement from Gov. Mike DeWine that Lawrence County will be getting federal help to make infrastructure repair after winter flooding.

“I am absolutely happy with this,” she said. “With the limited resources we have, this could be extra revenue to make an impact in the area of the North Fifth Street bridge.”

On March 11, the governor issued an emergency declaration for the southern counties in Ohio that were affected by severe storms in February. He asked President Donald Trump for a federal disaster declaration so federal funds would be made available for local governments to pay for damage repair and extra costs incurred as a result of severe storms, flooding and landslides.

On Monday, Trump granted the declaration for the 20 counties, which includes Lawrence County.

“We are filing an application with the Federal Emergency Management Agency for some headwall material,” Keith said. “During that flooding, we lost some material on an embankment by the North Fifth Street bridge.”

Headwall material is gravel or concrete that helps keep the dirt from the banks from eroding into the waterway.

The street department did a temporary fix to stabilize the embankment. She said paperwork was being submitted to the FEMA to get funds to do a more long-term fix on the embankment.

She said that there is a possibility that by applying to FEMA for the headwall material, it may open up other grants to fix the bridge itself.

“There is a bridge replacement program through the Ohio Department of Transportation,” Keith explained.

Currently, the bridge is open to vehicle traffic but heavy vehicles like firetrucks and ambulances have to take a different route.

DeWine said he was pleased Trump approved the federal funding.

“The assistance will be critical in helping these 20 counties fix infrastructure that was damaged in the February storms,” he said.

Funding will be provided through FEMA’s Public Assistance Program, which repays local governments for eligible storm-related response and recovery efforts, including debris removal, emergency protective measures, and the repair, replacement or restoration of damaged infrastructure.

The Ohio Emergency Management Agency will distribute the federal funds upon receipt and will process all required documentation. This declaration authorization also makes statewide funding available through the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program.