It’s happened enough times lately those filling out paperwork can almost do it in their sleep, but the county is once again working on gathering information to apply for federal emergency disaster assistance thanks to this spring and summer flooding.
John Hark, Marion County emergency manager, Mike Schaefer, county highway supervisor, and Stacy Richards, Marion County Highway Department secretary, attended the meeting last week to find out what changes there might be and how best to go about filling out the paperwork.
Which, actually, won’t be paperwork this time.
“At the meeting, we were given a packet on how to go to the FEMA portal to fill out the information,” said Hark, noting the county has already begun the process of gathering all of the necessary information to turn in.
At the meeting, the county filled out one form for the state,, the Request for Public Assistnace form, asking for federal assistance, but there is another form which involves more details and is due by Oct. 15.
The disaster declaration was made July 9 and includes a period starting April 29 and is ongoing as repair work is still being done.
Hark noted the paperwork the county is working on will be for public assistance, which covers anything in the county or city, including roads, bridges and streets. Drainage districts are also covered under public assistance.
No individual assistance will be available, he added, as no homes were damaged in the flooding this year.
Richards said there are seven different locations which were damaged by flood waters this year, including the Mark Bottoms where that drainage district levee failed. Work is ongoing in that area on county roads 342 and 345.
“We still have water in that area, but it is off the roads now,” she said, adding the county has been hauling “tons” of rock out to fix those roads.
Temporary pumps in that drainage district are going, however, and Richards said the county was surprised at how quickly the water did go down once those pumps were working.
In addition to repairing the damage, the county is also gathering the necessary information for the federal assistance.
That will include time, overtime, labor, equipment and anything else which was utilized to fight the flood and repair the damage caused by it.
And this time, Richards said, she is hoping her time spent working on flood related matters will count as well.
“Before, there was so much paperwork for hardly anything, and then nine times out of 10 they would deny it anyway, saying it was something I would be working on anyway,” she said.
But a new category in the paperwork will hopefully cover at least a portion of her time.
While, unfortunately, filling out paperwork and waiting on checks is something that has almost become routine for the county, it is something they believe is a necessity.
“It’s a tricky process and something we have to stay on top of,” said Hark. “But most of us have done this before.”
Richards added that while it is a benefit to the county to get reimbursed for costs associated with disaster, in the end it is the taxpayers who win.
“It helps when we recover the taxpayers dollars,” she said.
Under the program, FEMA’s share is 75 percent and the county’s is 25 percent. However, Richards said, the state will sometimes reimburse 10 percent of the county’s 25 percent.