Federal disaster relief coming to Marion County

Three agencies in Marion County have submitted a project in response to President Barack Obama?s federal disaster declaration for public assistance as a result of storms between May 4 and June 21 in Kansas.

The federal assistance, said Jane Welch with the Adjutant General?s department in Topeka, will help repair damage to public infrastructure and critical services from a series of storms which included tornadoes, straight-line winds, flooding and flash flooding.

According to Randy Frank, MC?Emergency Management, the county Road and Bridge Department submitted a project for roads, culverts and bridges damaged or destroyed, the city of Marion for a sinkhole on the south end of the city and the city of Florence for log debris piled up in the Cottonwood River against a bridge.

?The agencies that have projects will have a 15 percent cost share for the repairs,? he said.

?For example, if the project cost $100,000, the agency will spend $15,000.?

Agencies can pay their 15 percent in ways to include monetarily, documented volunteer help and cost share during the response phase.

That phase could be the Road and Bridge Department closing roads or law enforcement support and any other department assisting in the response phase.

?This could also include personnel, equipment and materials,? he said.

Procedures

When a local agency is affected with a disaster, there are many factors that are reviewed before a formal request for assistance at either the state or federal level is requested by the Marion County Emergency Management Department, he said.

?After the event happens, a damage assessment will need to be completed.

?This is where local experts identify the damage and assess the amount to repair the damage back to the former condition,? Frank said.

Once that?s done, Frank said he will work with the Kansas Division of Emergency Management and Federal Emergency Management Agency in conducting an more in-depth damage assessment with local professionals.

In order to apply for federal disaster declarations, certain rules include meeting a local damage threshold with the state of Kansas meeting a higher threshold.

?After this has been accomplished,? he said, ?KDEM and FEMA review the application and ensure that it meets the requirements of the Stafford Act and other related federal laws.?

After all these steps are completed, it then goes to the Obama for his approval.

With the Kansas application approved, Frank said a kickoff meeting with the applicant agencies along with KDEM and FEMA will be conducted.

?In order to request a disaster declaration from the president,? he said, ?there is an enormous amount of work involved in identifying the damage and preparing the documentation before submitting the request.?

Many agencies involved, Frank added, will stop normal operations for the life safety issues during the disaster, but will also adjust working project priorities to accomplish the tasks for the disaster application.

?Without the many hours that each agency puts into process, these declarations wouldn?t happen,? he said.

Counties affected

In addition to Marion County, federal funding also is available to state and eligible local governments.

The counties included are Atchison, Barton, Brown, Butler, Chase, Chautauqua, Cherokee, Cheyenne, Clay, Cloud, Coffey, Cowley, Doniphan, Edwards, Elk, Ellsworth, Franklin, Gray, Greenwood, Harper, Haskell, Hodgeman, Jackson, Jefferson, Jewell, Lyon, Marshall, McPherson, Meade, Miami, Morris, Nemaha, Neosho, Osage, Pottawatomie, Republic, Rice, Stevens, Sumner, Wabaunsee and Washington.

Gov. Sam Brownback said these federal funds will go a long way toward helping communities with their response and recovery efforts.

Brownback made the formal request for assistance on July 1.

Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.

Frank said the Small Business Administration could also offer funding for disaster relief.

SBA could lend public non-profit organizations up to $2 million to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory and other business assets, according to Welch.

SBA can also lend additional funds to help with the cost of improvements to protect, prevent or minimize the same type of disaster damage from occurring in the future, she said.

For more information, call Frank at 620-382-3462 or email him at: rfrank@marioncoks.net.

Disaster loan information and application forms are also available from SBA?s Customer Service Center by calling (800) 659-2955 or emailing disastercustomerservice@sba.gov.