Callaway County officials requested public assistance from FEMA on Tuesday, despite not having been added yet to the July 9 presidential disaster declaration following this year’s major flooding.
Local officials attended an applicant briefing Tuesday at the Jefferson City Police Department to submit paperwork to representatives from the State Emergency Management Agency.
Callaway County Presiding Commissioner Gary Jungermann explained the county has already exceeded the required threshold for eligibility.
“FEMA was (in Callaway County) recently and told us that we were going to make the list. The president just has to make another announcement adding several counties across the state,” Jungermann said.
Public assistance means FEMA will help with 75 percent of costs to repair and protect publicly operated infrastructure damaged during the recent flooding and tornado. Public assistance services include debris removal and contributing to emergency protective measures taken, such as sandbagging, according to SEMA. Services also aid repairing damages to roads and bridges, water control facilities, public buildings/equipment, public utilities and parks.
Callaway County Emergency Management Director Michelle Kidwell said the necessary threshold in damages is approximately $168,000. Damage to the Katy Trail in Callaway County alone is more than $500,000, she said.
“Last week, FEMA came and did their assessment, and we were hoping that we’d be added this week, but it seems like they want to have all of the counties done before adding anybody on,” Kidwell said.
Many damaged bridges and roads throughout Callaway County need public assistance-aided repairs, Kidwell explained. Additionally, the Jefferson City Municipal Airport sustained significant damages, as did a sewer plant in Mokane.
Callaway County was not the only unapproved county with representatives at Tuesday’s meeting. Representatives from nearby Cooper County found themselves in the same position as Callaway County.
“It’s just going to take a little bit to get the rest of the counties included in the (public assistance) process. We will be taking (requests for public assistance) today, but we can’t submit them until you’re added to the list,” SEMA public assistance coordinator Matthew Boley said.
Approved applicants will have a six-month time limit to finish all emergency projects and 18 months to finish all permanent projects. The state has the authority to grant limited extensions if the county can explain why the project couldn’t be finished, Boley said.
Callaway County was approved for FEMA individual assistance Aug. 6 after not being included in the initial July 9 declaration. Recipients of individual assistance can use FEMA grants for temporary rental assistance, basic home repairs and other needs not covered by insurance.