Columbia, MO -- The Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) Public Assistance Program is helping Webster County repair roads and a couple of low water bridges damaged by severe spring storms.
Because of damages caused by the storms in May, President Bush issued a disaster declaration on May 6 for a number of Missouri counties. Webster County had over 10 inches of rain in a three-day period; then another four to six inches pelted the saturated ground. Severe storms, wind driven rain, flooding and flowing over roadways caused gravel loss, ditch and road erosion, and washouts of culverts, and low water crossings.
Although Webster County has not been included in a presidential declared disaster before, county officials knew what to do. Emergency preparedness training offered to local officials through the years by the Missouri State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) emphasized the necessity of accurate documentation of all damages.
County officials immediately began inspecting, logging and photographing damage to the county's more than 700 miles of roadway. By mid May, the county had submitted its damage inventory to SEMA. The county was designated eligible for the Public Assistance program on May 22. On May 29, county officials took part in an Applicant Briefing conducted by SEMA to explain the program and start the process that would ultimately lead to repair funding.
The Public Assistance Program, administered by SEMA and funded 75 percent by FEMA, provides for the repair, restoration, or replacement of damaged public structures and facilities, such as roads, bridges, and public buildings. Eligible applicants include state and local governments and certain private, non-profit organizations. In Webster County there were two applicants: the county itself and the Seymour Special Road District. County officials put a team together, including the emergency manager, road supervisor, county commissioners, clerk, assessor and surveyor. The team developed a spread sheet that identified roads by name, number of total miles and number of miles of damage, longitude and latitude of damage, and road surface type. This information was presented to FEMA Public Assistance officers at the June 4 kickoff meeting.
For both applicants, the work to be accomplished included ditch grading and pulling, and replacement of hundreds of miles of road surface. All project sites were inspected by FEMA and SEMA representatives. County and Seymour Special Road District crews and equipment will complete the work.
Webster County, which maintains more than 80 percent of the rural roads, identified more than 90 damage sites. To date, more than $5.6 million in eligible costs has been approved, with the federal share being approximately $4.2 million.
The Seymour Special Road District maintains more than 15 percent of the county's rural roads and has more than 50 approved sites eligible for Public Assistance funding. To date more than $950,000 in eligible costs has been approved, with the federal share being approximately $712,500.