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The Rolla Daily News - Rolla, MO
  • Compensation from flood damage - a waiting game

  • Four and half months after record-setting floods caused damage to area roads and bridges, Phelps County Highway Department crews are done with repairs and are now waiting for reimbursement.
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  • Four and half months after record-setting floods caused damage to area roads and bridges, Phelps County Highway Department crews are done with repairs and are now waiting for reimbursement.
    However, the county road department has received no funds from either the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) or the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA).
    In fact the only money the county has been approved to receive from the federal and state agencies has been about $2,852.52 in reimbursement funds for the sheriff's department for their flood response efforts.
    And if the past is any indication, it may be years until the county gets all of its money. It was around early 2013 when the county received its final reimbursement from the May 2009 floods.
    FEMA representatives left the county late last week and won't return until the week of Jan. 6, Road Superintendent Walter Snelson told commissioners last week.
    Snelson said he was unhappy with the FEMA representative who has been working with the road department.
    Both District One County Commissioner Larry Stratman and County Clerk Carol Bennett said they voiced their displeasure to staff with Sen. Roy Blunt's office recently regarding FEMA.
    Heavy rains caused flooding in the area from Aug. 2-14 of this year and affected about 170 roads in Phelps County, according to Michelle Bock, with the county road department.
    Total labor, equipment and materials used for repairs and recovery efforts after the floods are still being totaled, but Bennett told the Daily News Dec. 19 that materials alone used to repair Phelps County roads total about $955,438.56.
    Bennett and Snelson said the total expenes with equipment and labor included could approach $1.5 million.
    Snelson told commissioners earlier this month that in many places, he moved rock and gravel that washed into ditches back onto the road to save money of spreading new rock or gravel down on county roads.
    And although funds were allocated in the 2013 road and bridge fund for chip-and-seal and asphalt overlay projects, county road crews never got around to starting that work because the flood repairs took precedence.
    Around $600,000 was set aside for asphalt overlay and chip-and-seal work in the 2013 budget.
    Also, because the floods caused unexpected expenses to the county road and bridge fund, county commissioners at their Dec. 19 meeting agreed to an interfund loan, in which money will be taken out of the use tax and debt service funds to cover the flood repair costs.

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