KANSAS CITY, MO -- Sometimes, it pays to spend a little to save a lot.
When severe storms struck Polk and six other counties in southwestern Missouri Aug. 19-21, causing a Major Presidential Disaster Declaration Sept. 21, heavy rainwater poured through two large culverts under south 50th Road, about half a mile south of 480th Road in Polk County.
The water struck with such force that the rip-rap, or gravel rock, used to hold the culverts in place washed away. The culverts were swept approximately 300 yards into a farm field, and the county road vital to farmers and local residents collapsed.
The side-by-side culverts were large, consisting of converted oil tanker rail cars with the ends cut off. Each converted-oil-tanker-rail-car culvert measured 102 feet long by 16 feet in diameter.
Moving them back into place, securing them with rip-rap and repairing the road?all to pre-storm condition?was estimated at $38,454, according to a project that Polk County submitted to FEMA and the state under DR-1728-MO, the designation for the current disaster. But all involved agreed that the culverts and Road 50 could easily be vulnerable again in a future severe storm.
Building back better and stronger would cost an additional $16,332. The scope of work called for moving the culverts back into place and, at the upstream end, securing each with a pair of concrete wing walls 12-inches thick by 12-feet deep by 16-feet long.
Also, constructing a concrete head wall 12-inches thick by 12-feet deep by 35-feet long and integrating a 6-foot deep by 24-foot wide by 50-foot long slab on the road above, tied into the head walls and wing walls, would make for a much stronger solution, engineers reasoned.
FEMA has completed its review and has "obligated" the funding to the state, which will forward a check to Polk County when the state's accounting has been completed. Then, the rebuilding can proceed with the assurance that it may not need repair the next time a severe event occurs.
Final cost: $54,786, with $41,090 coming from the federal government.
The project was approved and authorized under FEMA's Public Assistance program, which was authorized under the Sept. 21 declaration. The declaration made PA funding available to eligible agencies in Dade, Dallas, Greene, Lawrence, Laclede, Polk and Webster counties. To date, more than $1.3 million has been obligated for infrastructure repair from the storm.
"These projects are win-win for everybody involved," said Federal Coordinating Officer Michael Parker, in charge of the federal response in the seven disaster-declared counties, "and the biggest winner is the public."
State Coordinating Officer Ronald M. Reynolds, who heads the State Emergency Management Agency, said he appreciates the funding assistance that FEMA provides to the state and local jurisdictions.
"Building stronger just makes sense," he said.
FEMA coordinates the federal government's role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror.