In the midst of federal disaster relief, there is a small boost to the Mid-Missouri economy.
When President Obama declared 28 counties in Missouri a disaster area because of flooding and storms in June, FEMA made arrangements to take up residence in a centralized location. Because of its geographic location, and home to state government agencies, Jefferson City won the ticket.
Approximately 100 people from Federal Emergency Management Agency have been working in a rented building on Christy Drive since July 29. Local Realtor Larry Kolb said FEMA contacted him for help in finding a vacant building from which to operate.
"In this case, they called on Monday and said they thought the declaration would be signed by Friday and to start looking. On Friday morning at approximately 7 a.m., Washington D.C. signed the declaration and FEMA, whose regional office is located in Kansas City, was here by late Friday morning," Kolb explained.
The employees moved into the Frontier Building just four days later. The 25,000 square-foot Frontier Building is being leased for $39,000 a month. When the federal employees moved in, External Affiars Officer Ross Fredenburg said, they expected a stay of no more than 90 days. However, with more recent flooding, the agency could be settling in for longer.
Many of the FEMA employees are based out of Kansas City, and can travel back and forth from their homes to the effected areas. However, others, like Fredenburg who are reservists from all over the country, go wherever a disaster is declared. He is from upstate New York. In all, about 50 FEMA employees are staying right here in Jefferson City throughout the many months it takes to process the most recent disaster.
"We're basically processing grants for public entities," Fredenburg said. "There are 28 counties throughout Missouri that we are helping recover."
FEMA is working closely with Missouri's state emergency management, so Jefferson City was an ideal setup. Fredenburg said each disaster is different, but because of the close working relationship with state agencies, it often locates in the capitol city. Once they have a destination, FEMA is charged with finding a vacant building to set up shop.
The federal agency has located in Jefferson City four times since 2007. In previous years, FEMA has located in the old St. Mary's West clinic near Red Lobster, at 221 Metro Drive, and 208 Metro Drive. Each time the agency stayed for six to 18 months, Kolb recalled from helping them in the past. During those stints of operation, federal dollars have been filtered into the local economy through hotel services, restaurants, fuel and retail. Fredenburg said he and other FEMA employees are given a hotel allowance of $79 per night, and $51 per day for meals.
"That is the biggest impact, economically, that we have. We do purchase things, and rent cars as well," he noted.