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UWWV, Commissioners present reimbursement checks

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

There are times when good things do come to those who wait.

On Monday, United Way of the Wabash Valley (UWWV) Executive Director Troy Fears and Clay County Commissioner Paul Sinders presented a pair of checks to reimburse organizations which used out-of-pocket funds to repair levees damaged during the June 2008 flood.

When work was initially approved in July 2008, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service fronted 75 percent of the costs, leaving 25 percent to be provided through local organizations.

Sinders told The Brazil Times the checks -- $18,710.72 to the Guirl Ditch Levee Association and $17,076.28 to the Lewis Township Improvement Fund -- reimburses the majority of the local funds used to repair the damaged levees.

"The Clay County Soil and Water Conservation District gave these two organizations some funding a couple of months ago," Sinders said. "These checks are reimbursing the remainder of the funding they had to put up to help fix the levees after the flood."

Fears said the monies for the checks came from the third round of funding of a $45 million grant the Indiana Association of United Ways received from the Lilly Foundation of Indiana for disaster recovery efforts.

"Each United Way could apply for some of the funding for local projects," he said. "For this round, which is considered the 'funding of last resort,' we received confirmation that it was approved within the last couple of months."

Local farmer and President of the Lewis Township Improvement Fund Brad Ferree said the funding would help repay the loans that were taken out to provide the 25 percent matching local funds.

"We had to borrow the funds to put up the match in order to fix the levee," he said.

Both the Improvement Fund and Levee Association service the same area in Lewis Township with the Fund focusing on the levees themselves while Guirl Ditch helps maintain the drainage and ditches in the area.

Ferree added the floods had a major impact on the area his organization oversees.

"In total, I think we lost about 6,000-7,000 acres of crops because of the flood," he said.

Knowing the difficulties farmers in Clay County were experiencing following the flood motivated Sinders all the more to do what he could to help.

"When a levee is destroyed or damaged, it causes great harm and damage to the local farmer," Sinders said. "Their crops are destroyed and their land is damaged, which has a great effect on their livelihood."

Sinders added he could not have made the possibility of the reimbursements happen on his own, citing it was a team effort with "all parties working together to benefit and help those who suffered a financial loss from the June 2008 flood."

"I want to thank the Lilly Endowment Fund of Indiana for making the money available through the UWWV," he said. "We also appreciate the help and support we received from UWWV Executive Director Troy Fears, Clay County Emergency Management Director Bryan Husband, along with the Clay County Commissioners for their support as well."



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