County Seeks Federal and State Assistance to Repair Flood Damaged Roads

July 6, 2010
by: 
Dwayne Page
Flood washed away hot mix from road at Lower Helton Bridge over Smith Fork Creek
Road washed away from flood waters at bridge on Dry Creek

DeKalb County is seeking federal and state funds to help pay for costs of repairing local roads, including those around bridges, and for debris clean-up from the flooding that occurred May 1st and 2nd.

But in order for the county to receive Hazard Mitigation grant funds, it must be enrolled in the National Flood Insurance Program. Last week, the county commission authorized participation in the program, as recommended by the DeKalb County Regional Planning Commission.

County Mayor Mike Foster says by being enrolled in the National Flood Insurance Program, county residents living in the floodplain will have an opportunity to purchase flood insurance and the county will be eligible to apply for flood relief funds. "First of all it means we have to be enrolled in it to get this hazard mitigation money. We have applied to get the county benefits from the flood. In the past, you didn't have to be a member of it or be enrolled in it (flood insurance program). The cities of the county are already enrolled in it and most of the flood areas are in Alexandria, Liberty, and Dowelltown and a few in Smithville. All this does (enrolling in the program) is bring the rest of the county in so that if a person has property, they can get flood insurance on it, even if it's in a flood plain. Right now you can't (get flood insurance). You can get insurance if you're not in a flood plain, but if you live in a flood plain, you can't (get flood insurance) unless we (county) are enrolled and that's what this is about."

"A person can still build in the flood plain, but he has to build his foundation above the 100 year flood plain. I think they (foundations) have to be at least three feet above the 100 year flood plain, so they (owners) can build up their lot in that spot and still build on it. The only areas we're really talking about would be somewhere along Smith Fork Creek and probably below the dam. There's probably seven or eight houses down through there that are in the flood plain. A few are in the flood plain along Smith Fork and a few of the other creeks."

"In reality, we may not have but one a year that would build in that flood plain. If they do (build), what they have to do is have a surveyor shoot the elevation of the 100 year plain according to the maps we have and tell him (owner) where he can build his house and then we (county) have to go out and inspect it to see that he does that. Then, everybody who lives within the flood plain could purchase flood insurance if they want to. But, like I said there are very few flood plain areas in the county (outside the cities of Smithville, Dowelltown, Liberty, and Alexandria). Technically, a lot of the land around the lake is in the flood plain but it's owned by the Corps so there's not going to be any building in it."

Foster says if approved for grant funding, FEMA would pay 75% and the state would fund 12.5% to reimburse the county for the repairs. The local matching obligation would be 12.5%, which could be met with in-kind work. "There's probably six or seven bridge locations where the roads around them have some to a lot of damage. The roads to the bridges on Smith Fork have a lot of damage. There is some serious damage to the one at Dismal and another down stream on Lower Helton and they're both fairly new bridges. One of them is very new but the flood waters actually went over the top of it and washed out part of the roads coming to the bridges. So far we don't think there's any damage to the bridges temselves but to the ramps on each end. We've also got some debris that's washed in under two or three bridges that needs to be corrected. There's also some minor damage to roads around bridges on Dry Creek and Sink Creek that need to be repaired."

"We also have miles of roads that have been damaged where either the ditchlines were disturbed or washed out, or in some cases the blacktop washed off some of the roads. This grant money would help repair those areas. A lot of them are under the hill, as far as the roads washing away, but even some roads around the lake on some of the steeper roads had some damage. I know of four or five areas in particular, and some of them are also on top of the hill, where there was damage to ditchlines as rip rap washed out or they just need to be repaired. Kenny (Edge) has a list of those that we is working on."

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