MORGAN COUNTY, OH - When it comes to repairing or replacing disaster-damaged infrastructure, Federal and state recovery officials look for cost effective opportunities to reduce damages in future events. Such was the case when the Morgan County Highway Department applied for funding to replace a twin culvert system. The culvert system became overwhelmed by Hurricane Ivan floodwaters in September 2004 that washed out the roadbed of Compressor Road north of Marion Township, Morgan County.
Extra funds were dedicated to build one large, arched culvert and repair the roadbed to prevent flooding in the future. The work was done just in time. When floods hit in January 2005, many roads in the area were heavily damaged, but the new culvert performed up to expectations and Compressor Road at this site came away unscathed.
This was all made possible by Morgan County becoming eligible for the FEMA and Ohio Emergency Management Agency (Ohio EMA) Public Assistance (PA) program under a Presidential declaration of a major disaster for that flood. The PA program, administered by the state provides reimbursements to state agencies, local jurisdictions, and certain non-profit organizations that provide a government-like service for eligible disaster-related costs and damages. Services include debris removal, emergency protective measures, and repair and restoration of disaster-damaged public infrastructures. FEMA provides 75 percent reimbursement of the eligible costs.
Under one section of the PA program, administrators are empowered to make additional obligations of funding for a project that meets the program mitigation funding criteria if those mitigation measures are cost effective. The Marion Township Compressor Road culvert replacement met these criteria. In most cases, PA repair and restoration funding brings damaged infrastructure back to pre-disaster conditions.
One major FEMA and Ohio EMA Public Assistance program goal is to mitigate, wherever it is cost effective, when restoring damaged infrastructure so the repaired facility is better able to withstand future disaster damages. A little extra money spent now may save untold funds later. Such was the case with the Compressor Road repairs.
Altogether, it would cost about $3,200 to replace the culverts and roadbed to pre-disaster conditions. For a little more than $6,000 an arched 85-inch by 54-inch culvert replaced the twin culverts.
"By adding extra funds to provide a larger culvert," said FEMA's Region V Acting Regional Director Janet Odeshoo. "We believe that the culvert and roadway will have a much better chance of not being damaged in a similar flooding event."