More than half of Pulaski County roads were damaged by flooding just two months ago. Damage estimates continue to climb and long-term recovery efforts are just beginning.
Area county officials attended the Oct. 10 Meramec region Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC) to share their experience with flood recovery so far.
According to Pulaski County Presiding Commissioner Gene Newkirk, the latest damage estimate in Pulaski County at the time of the TAC meeting was $15 million, and that figure may increase. It accounts for 360 miles of damaged roads. Those damages range from minor to roads completely washed away.
“We have one road that we haven’t even gotten to yet,” Newkirk said. “We don’t even know what it looks like.”
A federal disaster declaration for public entities was made, allowing county and city governments to recoup a percentage of funds spent repairing the roads.
Phelps County has gone through this process in prior flooding of the Gasconade River at Jerome, and was also included in the declaration made in August.
“Our concern is we know we are going to get paid some amount of money. We just don’t know when,” Phelps County District One Commissioner Larry Stratman said.
Some tips Newkirk and Stratman shared with the group to help other elected officials prepare for a potential disaster included being prepared to document every resource used by the county or city during recovery efforts, ensuring the county or city log book includes details when describing the roads and to always have extra copies of documentation available.
Newkirk also brought photos of road damage and aerial video footage of the flood to help other TAC members see what the county encountered.
In other business, the TAC discussed a schedule for setting transportation priorities for the region and learned from Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) Area Engineer Preston Kramer that construction season is nearly complete for 2013. Preston said MoDOT crews are planning a more extensive fall cleanup as compared to last year. This will include wider mowing areas along state highways.
MRPC’s Transportation Advisory Committee will meet again at 4 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 12, at the Meramec Regional Planning Commission office, 4 Industrial Drive, St. James. Meetings are open to the public.