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Berkeley County officials estimate financial impact of severe June storm

July 19, 2012|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthew.umstead@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Berkeley County officials still are estimating the financial impact that severe storms on June 29 had on public facilities, but the costs so far — about $190,000 — have yet to reach the threshold needed to net federal disaster assistance.

Stephen S. Allen, director of the Berkeley County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, told the Berkeley County Council on Thursday that the estimated storm costs would have to reach about $350,000 before the county could be added to a major disaster declaration requested by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin.

The city of Martinsburg has estimated about $135,000 in storm costs, City Finance Director Mark Spickler said.

The city’s costs were included in the $190,360 that Allen had tallied as of Thursday afternoon, but he said other government agencies and departments still are expected to report the storm-related costs they have incurred.

Terri Mehling, deputy director of Jefferson County’s office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, said the county met the threshold for the preliminary damage assessment for public assistance, which she estimated is about $180,000.

Jefferson County was among 45 counties included in Tomblin’s request to President Obama to declare as major disaster areas, but Berkeley County still could be added, officials said Thursday.

Mehling did not know the county’s estimated storm costs, but was aware of building damage at Sam Michaels Park and the county commission office building in Charles Town, W.Va.

Even if the county ultimately isn’t eligible for federal assistance, Spickler said the storm doesn’t devastate the city’s budget because much of the estimated cost was based on the extra use of equipment already on hand.

About $120,000 of the city’s estimated cost was incurred by the public works department, but only a small part of that was for extraordinary labor costs for workers to clean up storm debris, Spickler said.

More than 30,000 Potomac Edison customers lost power in Berkeley County after the storm downed trees, power lines and utility poles that carried them.

Aside from the ongoing assessment for public assistance, Allen reminded county residents Thursday that those who have damage to their homes and property should report the damages to his office. Allen can be contacted at 304-263-1345 or by email at sallen@berkeleywv.org.

Damages are being reported to state and federal officials in support of a possible major disaster declaration for individual assistance from President Obama, according to a news release that Allen distributed.

Residents also are encouraged to report damage and losses to their insurance agent for possible reimbursement.

Food loss and costs of private generators, including fuel, do not need to be reported to local emergency management directors since these costs are not reimbursable under any Federal Emergency Management declaration, according to the news release.

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