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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Commissioners still working on relief effort

Monday, February 22, 2010

This FEMA map indicates Indiana counties which received various types of assistance after the June 2008 flood.
More than a year-and-a-half after the devastating June 2008 flood, the Clay County Commissioners are still working on the relief effort.

During Monday's special meeting, Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA) West Central Community Liaison Jill Curry informed the commissioners of grant opportunities for the ongoing cleanup.

"There is various disaster recovery funding left over that is able to be used on projects not funded by FEMA or INDOT," Curry said. "However, it is all competitive grant funding so there is no guarantee the county will receive it."

The first grant Curry highlighted was for waterway debris removal, which would be helpful in removing a logjam in Eel River, north of State Road 46, near Bowling Green.

"There is a large logjam which falls into either Condition 3 or 4 in our guidelines, meaning it is a priority to complete," Curry said. "I'll also have to talk to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) about the possibility of removing or repairing the bridge abutment."

She added there are five requirements needed to be considered for the grant monies, including:

* No matching funds are required, but if added, the county must show where the money came from,

* Preliminary engineering is required, but can be done by the County Surveyor, which may be counted as a local match,

* An environmental clearance is needed,

* Necessary permits/licensing must be identified, and

* Site control, such as acquiring easements, is necessary.

According to Curry, there is no deadline to submit a proposal/application for the grant, but it is on a first-come-first-serve basis.

She added there is the potential in the future for the same grant to apply to the Mary Portis Brown ditch, which also has a logjam, but it is not substantial and is not eligible at this time.

The second grant area Curry described was for "outstanding damage," which is basically for damage to bridges discovered after the flood.

"This has an application deadline of May 14, but we would need to get with the (Clay County) Highway Department to see if anything might fall into this category," Curry said.

The final grant possibility Curry spoke of was for "to be completed outstanding damage projects," which she said the constant washouts of River Road since the flood would apply.

"There has been major erosion along Eel River near River Road since the flood," she said. "It was rejected for FEMA funding, but the need for a permanent fix of the river bank stabilization is the most urgent need at this time."

This grant also has a May 14 application deadline, and has the same five requirements as the waterway debris removal grant, with some modifications.

"The County Surveyor cannot do the preliminary engineering because it must be done by a certified engineer," Curry said. "With the tight deadline and environmental review -- which can take at least two months -- it would probably be best to pay for the engineering through local funds."

This proved to be a sticking point with the tight budget the county currently has.

"Right now, there is no money appropriated anywhere for engineering or an environmental review," Clay County Auditor Mary Jo Alumbaugh said.

With the information provided to them, the Commissioners approved a motion to request bids for a grant administrator, which is required for all three options -- for the waterway debris removal, and attempt to obtain estimates for preliminary engineering before moving forward on the River Road project.

Meanwhile, the commissioners signed a subgrant agreement for District 7 of the Indiana Department of Homeland Security. The grant, which is for $110,000, will go toward core elements of developing the district's equipment, part of which will benefit water rescue teams.

The next regular meeting of the Clay County Commissioners will be 9 a.m., Monday, March 1, in the Commissioners' Courtroom at the Clay County Courthouse.

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