ALBANY, N.Y. -- Repairs to the Wells Road bridge that crosses Jimmy Creek in Hamilton County damaged during the June 2006 flooding were designed to a higher standard, and may be less vulnerable to future flooding.
Thanks to a New York State and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) policy, extra funding is provided to mitigate against future damages to public infrastructure.
River flooding due to June's torrential rains undermined bridge abutments on both sides of the creek, making replacement of the bridge paramount. A temporary bailey bridge, a portable pre-fabricated bridge used widely by military engineers, has been installed until a replacement bridge can be constructed.
"The water surging under the bridge scoured under the bridge foundations, dropping the road bed about two feet and pulling it away from the guard rails," says Tracy Eldridge, Hamilton County highway superintendent. "An enlarged waterway was needed, and we expect this new one to do the trick."
President Bush signed a major disaster declaration for New York State as a result of the 2006 flooding.
The disaster declaration triggered the Public Assistance Program in Hamilton County to reimburse government entities and certain non-profits for emergency protective measures and the repair of damaged public infrastructure.
FEMA provides 75 percent of the grant funding. The 25 percent non-federal share is funded by the state. The New York State Emergency Management Office (SEMO) administers the program.
A major FEMA and SEMO goal is to mitigate, where it is cost effective, when restoring damaged infrastructure so the repaired facility is better able to withstand future disaster damages. Extra money spent now can reduce future impacts and costs.
SEMO and FEMA have approved approximately $270,000 in bridge restoration costs. Of that, approximately $23,000 is earmarked to install a new bridge with an enlarged waterway opening so that water in a flood like the June 2006 event will be able to flow through more easily and prevent new damages to the bridge and its appurtenance. The federal share of the total project cost is more than $203,000.
"Mitigation activities such as these are a smart way of doing business by spending monies now to lessen the threat to communities before an event occurs in the future," said State Coordinating Officer John R. Gibb, Director of SEMO.
"This is an excellent example of an investment in improvements that will pay dividends for years to come," said FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer Marianne C. Jackson.
FEMA manages federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident, initiates mitigation activities and manages the National Flood Insurance Program. FEMA works closely with state and local emergency managers, law enforcement personnel, firefighters and other first responders. FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on March 1, 2003.