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Municipal officials begin task of seeking federal disaster aid

July 25, 2006|by DON AINES

MARION, Pa. - Cleaning up after the late June floods cost local governments in Franklin County hundreds of thousands of dollars, and 11 municipalities and nine fire departments and companies sent representatives to the Marion Volunteer Fire Department to find out what expenses are covered by federal disaster assistance.

As of Thursday, preliminary estimates of damage to public property were about $450,000.

Greene Township Supervisor Charles D. Jamison put the cost of the floods at approximately $157,000 for his township, including debris removal, damage to roads, drainage systems and overtime for employees. Even the damage to roads, Jamison said, probably is not covered by municipal insurance.

The damage in Quincy Township was $50,000 to $100,000, said Supervisor Kerry Bumbaugh. Thirty sites where there was damage to township property have been documented, he said.

A control device for the borough's water system was damaged by the floods, said Mont Alto (Pa.) Councilman Dennis Monn. It remains undetermined as to whether that will be covered by insurance, he said.

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The borough also wants to find out if it can be reimbursed for overtime expenses and if the fire company can recoup equipment costs for pumping out basements, Monn said.

Maranatha, a faith-based charity whose food pantry in Chambersburg was damaged by flooding, was among the nongovernmental entities represented at the meeting, said Gary Himes, the county's acting emergency management coordinator.

The municipalities and other entities began the process Monday by filling out requests for public assistance at the fire hall meeting. Mike Kearney, representing the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, said the Federal Emergency Management Agency will cover 75 percent of the eligible costs with the state covering the balance.

That includes emergency work, such as debris removal, and permanent restoration, including the repair of roads and bridges. The federal disaster declaration, he said, covers flood-related damage and expenses incurred June 23 to July 10.

All insurance payments for damage have to be deducted from eligible costs, but the insurance deductibles themselves are eligible costs, Kearney said. FEMA will pay for eligible work not covered by insurance, he said.

Not eligible for reimbursement, Kearney said, are repairs for pre-existing damage or deferred maintenance and damage caused to private nonprofit facilities. FEMA will bear some of the cost for improvements beyond repairs or replacements that will mitigate the chances of future flood damage, but not, for example, replacing a one-lane bridge with a two-lane span.

The faster the information and damage assessments get to PEMA, the faster the municipalities will get reimbursement from the federal government, he said.

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