Another meeting with FEMA on Monday to discuss public assistance yielded an estimated reimbursement of $390,000 for the Phelps County Road Department and zero-dollar reimbursement to the Rolla Rural Fire Department to help pay for the mutual-aid assistance it lended to the city of Piedmont during the March floods.


Another meeting with FEMA on Monday to discuss public assistance yielded an estimated reimbursement of $390,000 for the Phelps County Road Department and zero-dollar reimbursement to the Rolla Rural Fire Department to help pay for the mutual-aid assistance it lended to the city of Piedmont during the March floods.


Because the Rolla Rural Fire Department (RRFD) does not have a statewide, mutual-assistance agreement that specifically details reimbursement costs, the six days the RRFD volunteer firefighters lended support to Piedmont during the March floods will not be reimbursed by FEMA’s public assistance fund, said a FEMA coordinator at the Public Assistance Kick-Off Meeting for Phelps County.


Bruce Southard, chief of RRFD, explained the department had been asked to assist Piedmont by the Missouri Division of Fire Safety by transporting a pumper and tanker to the flood-ravaged city in March.


Additionally, six volunteer RRFD firefighters took off work to assist the stricken city, Southard said.


In a meeting very similiar to last week’s Public Assistance Meeting held by FEMA, in which a representative of the Rolla Fire and Rescue Department was told the department would not be reimbursed by FEMA for lending aid to Piedmont, FEMA Public Assistance Coordinator Jim Philpott reiterated FEMA policy: no invoices or contracts, no money.


Philpott did say, however, that a mutual-assistance agreement could be developed “post-event,” or, the RRFD could bill Piedmont directly for the cost of the assistance, which Piedmont could submit for reimbursement from FEMA.


Southard said Piedmont’s total budget for fire protection is $14,000, and he did not believe the City of Piedmont would have the funds to reimburse the RRFD.


Other comments made by Phelps County public officials attending the FEMA Kick-Off Meeting for Phelps County also included a concern about FEMA changing the policies regarding the eligibility of some reimbursements mid-stream through the process, as it had done in a prior disaster event, one official said.


Another concern included reimbursements for the real cost of fuel, which has increased dramatically since the current cost codes were implemented.


“Fuel is included in FEMA’s cost code,” Philpott said, “It’s probably not as much as it should be.”


The Phelps County Road Department, however, should realize approximately $390,000 in reimbursements from FEMA for various projects associated with debris cleanup and road repairs.


The federally declared disaster began on March 17, and the closing date has not been set, so any ongoing debris cleanup and flood-related construction would still be eligible for a FEMA public assistance grant, a cost-share grant in which the federal government pays 75 percent and the state pays 10 percent of costs for flood-related cleanup and damages.