Funding From Disaster Declaration a Big Help for Southwest Missouri Counties

Aug 10, 2015

Dozens of Missouri counties that received damage from this summer’s flooding will be reimbursed for a majority of those repairs. The help comes after Friday’s announcement that President Barack Obama has approved Gov. Jay Nixon’s request for a major disaster declaration.

High waters along the Finley River in July in Ozark.
Credit Scott Harvey / KSMU

“The prolonged severe weather system that repeatedly hit Missouri with flooding and severe storms caused an estimated $38 million in damage to roads, bridges and other public infrastructure and resulted in at least 10 deaths,” Gov. Nixon said Friday. “This declaration will help bring much needed financial assistance to the many communities that have sustained excessive response costs and heavy damage to essential public infrastructure.”

The declaration offers federal public assistance for 68 counties, including Christian County, where Phil Amtower is the emergency management director.

“Our estimates are probably gonna be pretty close to a half a million dollars, and then if we get the 75 percent of that half a million dollars that will be a big chunk for us,” Amtower told KSMU on Monday.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency will be able to offer the 75 percent reimbursement to many other southwest Missouri counties, including Barry, Dade, Dallas, Laclede, McDonald, Ozark, Polk, Stone, Taney, Texas, Webster, and Wright.

Amtower says FEMA will appoint a project officer to the county to help review the costs to repair the damage.

“They’ll look at the time sheets for employees, what kind of equipment they used, the load tickets for all the gravel and asphalt and all that kind of stuff and they’ll compile these project worksheets and come up with a total for each site.”

There was also an estimated $500,000 in damage in Barry County, according to Emergency Management Director David Compton.

“Certainly a good number of roads in the Mineral Springs Road District are completely destroyed and washed away, as well as the city park and walking trails in the city of Cassville are extensively damaged and will require extensive repairs to those.”

He says at least an equal amount of damage was sustained on private homes and businesses in Barry County, where rapidly rising waters in early July prompted over 40 different rescues.

Still undetermined is Gov. Nixon’s request for individual assistance for residents in 15 Missouri counties, including Barry, Christian, Greene, Stone and Webster. Individual assistance, if granted, means that eligible individuals and households can seek federal assistance for uninsured losses from severe weather flooding.

Both Compton and Amtower say that without the federal reimbursement, officials would have to cut back on some already budgeted projects.

Compton says, “What happens during these disasters when you do not have a declaration is that these emergency repairs are made, and those other projects that are slated for this year have to be put on the back burner or cancelled until a later time because the funding does not exist.”