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story.lead_photo.caption Workers clean up debris at the Missouri State Penitentiary following the May 22, 2019, tornado that swept through Jefferson City. Photo by Mark Wilson / News Tribune.

Local officials are waiting to see what federal funding will be coming to Cole County and Jefferson City in the wake of the May 22 tornado and ongoing flooding.

At Tuesday's Cole County Commission meeting, Cole County Emergency Management Director Bill Farr said Federal Emergency Management Agency assessments were completed Friday and Saturday in the city and county. He said he had no information about what the assessments found, but he said members of the Missouri Structural Assessment and Visual Evaluation Coalition were in the city and county a few days after the tornado and estimated damage to structures.

The coalition is a group of volunteer engineers, architects, building inspectors and other trained professionals who help the Missouri State Emergency Management Agency.

"They found just over 2,000 buildings damaged in the city and around 600 in the county," Farr said. "These will be significant figures because the documents we'll have to do for the federal government will have to show the dollar loss to every building and how much it will cost to repair them. They'll take what they found and what we found and what they found in their assessments and figure out how much we get."

If approved, the city and county would get 75 percent reimbursement from the federal government for expenses related to disasters.

Farr said he spent Monday driving areas along the Osage River that had been affected by flooding as FEMA will probably be doing its tornado relief and flooding relief, together. FEMA also did flyovers of the county, which included Osage City, Marina Road and Lisletown Road as well as affected areas in Callaway and Boone counties.

Public Works Director Larry Benz said they don't know how much damage was done by the flooding to county roads.

"What we're seeing so far is not like the damage that has occurred to roads in North Jefferson City," Benz said.

In the past, Farr said, FEMA has come into the affected area after a declaration is made and opens an office where residents can talk with representatives.

"Residential assistance is a fine line, and we haven't had to apply for that type assistance for a long time," Farr said. "It's probably the hardest of funds to get. Very seldom do they give them, but I think with the magnitude of damage here I would think we should get it — hopefully."

Farr commended Benz and his crews for picking up leafy debris throughout the county. Benz said they will probably keep the burn site open a couple of more weeks in Eugene.

"Hopefully we'll find out more this week," Farr said. "There's already a lot of rebuilding going on in a lot of areas and that's good to see. All in all, the city and county have done very well in trying to help people, wherever they can. Just getting the debris out of the way and streets cleaned up was remarkable."

In other action Tuesday, commissioners approved bids for road improvements around the county.

For the annual chip and seal program, the low bid was Missouri Petroleum at $315,073.10. The low on the annual asphalt overlay program was from Higgins Asphalt at $900,768.73.

Roads to be done in the overlay program include West Lohman Road, Monticello Road, United Road/Penny Hollow Road, United Spur, Redfield Drive, Redfield Lane, Mount Carmel Road (in front of businesses), Rudy Lane, Kensington Park, Fairlawn Court and several roads in Lohman.

The roads to be done in the chip seal program include North Bend Road, South Bend Road, Alverno Road, Roy L Drive, Meadow Wood Drive, Shoshoni Drive, East Meller Road, West Meller Road, Wade Road, Elston Road and Scott Station Road.

Also Tuesday, commissioners approved having Cole County Presiding Judge Pat Joyce move ahead with applying for a grant to help the county in its effort to get a mental health alternative court program.

Joyce said the grant would be for $750,000 and the money would come in over a three-year period. The first six months would be for planning and eventually one person would be brought in to help with the court. The court would focus on mental health and substance abuse issues.

Cole County currently has alternative court programs for driving while impaired, veterans and drugs.

"We're wanting to work with the Jefferson City Police Department and Cole County Sheriff's Department to identify people who have substance abuse and mental health issues and get them treatment," Joyce said. "We want to get them access to treatment immediately after their arrest."

Joyce also noted they have a new drug court coordinator, Katie Doman, who has worked for the state of Missouri in a similar capacity for the last six years. She replaces Larry Henry who moved out of state to take another job.

In other action Tuesday, commissioners reviewed the 2018 audit report for the county. Williams Keepers has done the audit for several years, and their representatives said they found the county's accounting records to be in good order and proposed no significant adjustments. They also reported they had no difficulties in performing the audit.

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