Bartlett briefed on storm damage in Washington County

October 31, 2012|By DON AINES |
  • U.S. Rep Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md., left, and Washington County Board of Commissioners President Terry Baker talk as they walk along Hicksville Road Wednesday inspecting homes damaged by the storm.
By Ric Dugan/Staff Photographer

WASHINGTON COUNTY — Early damage assessments on Washington County showed relatively little damage to homes and infrastructure in Washington County, according to county officials who briefed U.S. Rep Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md., on Wednesday.

With no known injuries or deaths due to the storm that dumped rain and brought high winds to the region, Washington County will be sending two medic units to assist New Jersey, said Kevin Lewis, the county’s director of Emergency Services.

“There’s going to be huge sums needed in New York and New Jersey,” Bartlett said of the federal money that will be needed to deal with the devastation in those states.

“I think we were fortunate,” said County Commissioner Jeffrey Cline, who said he toured parts of the county in the wake of Sandy.

The county had eight two-person engineering teams assessing damage to bridges roads and other public utilities, Public Works Director Joseph Kroboth said. There were also six building inspection teams to look at private and public buildings.

There were three homes damaged in the Clear Spring area, as well as a dugout that was destroyed at a Clear Spring baseball field, Kroboth said. Much of the work ahead for the county will be removing and disposing of debris on roads and which has accumulated at bridges.

Bartlett was shown a photo of a mass of branches, limbs and other debris jammed against the Broadfording Road bridge. The county will have to rent cranes with clamshell buckets to remove the debris, which is partially blocking the flow of streams and creeks.

Kroboth said Washington County has 160 minor bridges — ones with spans of less than 20 feet — and approximately 100 major bridges, Kroboth said.

There were still a handful of roads closed due to flooding and two people had to be rescued from vehicles stranded in water, Lewis said. Two families sought shelter at North Hagerstown High School during the storm and there were one or two house fires during the storm, he said.

In coming days and weeks, the county will be working with municipalities and agencies to determine the costs associated with preparing, responding and recovering from the storm, said Lewis. Then it will be determined if the county meets “FEMA thresholds” for reimbursement by the federal government, he said.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency sets those monetary thresholds for counties based on population, Lewis said. In the case of Washington County, the figure is about $500,000, he said.

If the cost of preparing for, responding to and cleaning up the storm exceeds that figure, Lewis said the county can apply for reimbursement.

The damage from Sandy will amount to many billions of dollars, Bartlett told Cline.

“I have no idea what it will do to the economy. It won’t be helpful,” Bartlett said.

After meeting with county officials, Bartlett went with them to see some of the damage in the Clear Spring area.

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