The Ottumwa Courier

April 19, 2013

Wapello County declared a disaster area More damage may be discovered when flood recedes

By MARK NEWMAN Courier staff writer
Ottumwa Courier

---- — OTTUMWA — Wapello County may be able to get assistance repairing damaged roads.

“Some of those things can be very expensive,” said Josh Stevens, Emergency Management Coordinator for Wapello County. “You can get into millions when you’re talking about a road and the culverts that go underneath.”

Roads and other “infrastructure” damaged by flooding Thursday may qualify for assistance from FEMA. To that end, Wapello County supervisors submitted a disaster declaration to the state of Iowa.

“The county board of supervisors, upon talking to Brian Moore, county engineer, [found] there was some pretty significant damage to infrastructure,” said Stevens. “They’ve asked me to write a disaster declaration.”

If the governor agrees, he can forward the request on to the federal government after declaring Wapello County a state disaster area.

“This is the first step in getting assistance,” said Moore.

Supervisor Greg Kenning said Thursday he didn’t have a timeline for receiving assistance or even for discovering whether assistance would be approved. Years ago, during a different disaster situation, he recalls, the board sent in three requests in a six-month period. Two of the three resulted in assistance.

County crews spent Thursday putting signs on roads to warn motorists to use caution where the surface was flooded, as well as removing debris from underneath bridges to allow streams to flow, which keeps a few borderline streets from getting flooded.

Yet with all the challenges faced by road crews on Thursday, it was damage assessment, simply figuring out what needs to be fixed, that may prove to be the most frustrating part of their job.

“A lot of it is still underwater,” Moore said.