OMAHA, Neb. -- When August floodwaters crashed through the wall of the Metropolitan Area Transit (MAT) Authority building, about $4.5 million in damage was left behind.
MAT had prepared for an event like this by purchasing the appropriate insurance ahead of time. Taxpayers are saving millions of dollars.
"This is an amazing example of how the State and federal governments are saving a huge amount of taxpayer money," said Charles Biggs, federal coordinating officer for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
For instance, if there had been no insurance, FEMA would have likely paid $3.4 million of the total damage costs. The State of Nebraska would have had to pay $560,000 of the total $4.5 million in damages. Because of MAT's insurance coverage, FEMA's share will be less than $40,000 and the State's share, less than $12,000. Between the state and federal assistance, the savings to taxpayers is about $3.5 million.
Through disaster assistance to public entities, FEMA pays 75 percent of eligible damage costs and the State shares the remaining 25 percent cost with the applicant.
MAT officials reported that their insurance company, Allianz Insurance, already has made its first installment of $500,000. The money is slated to cover cleanup costs. Most of the refuse has been removed from the facility. Contamination from oil reclamation tanks and backup sewer water has been neutralized under the supervision of the State Environmental Agency.
"Allianz has been most cooperative and understanding in helping us resolve the many issues we have been faced with," said R.E. Curtright, Jr., executive director of MAT. Repairs to the company's facility are expected to be completed in six months.
Fran Laden, state coordinating officer for the disaster, added: "We, too, are extremely grateful for the insurance that MAT purchased. This is an example of why it is important for government as well as the private sector to purchase insurance in order to lower disaster costs."
Federal Coordinating Officer Biggs added that Public Assistance work continues throughout Douglas, Washington and Burt counties. This means federal disaster funds can be provided to Nebraska and eligible affected local governments to pay 75 percent of costs for debris removal, emergency protective measures, and restoring disaster damaged infrastructure from the Aug. 6-9 storms.
So far, about two dozen political subdivisions have applied for state and federal assistance, Biggs said. To date, nearly $1 million has been approved by FEMA for all Nebraska infrastructure projects.