FEMA grants Crook County half a million dollars in recovery funds

By Sarah Pridgeon

A combination of funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the State of Wyoming will cover almost the full cost of repairing damage caused by May’s flooding, says Katie Allen of Crook County Road & Bridge. In total, over half a million dollars will be reimbursed, leaving the county with a final repair bill of just $25,000.

FEMA’s contribution of $425,000 will cover 75 percent of the total cost of the county’s repair projects. The county is required to cover the remaining 25 percent but, thanks largely to Governor Mead’s decision to assist counties with the cost of repair work, the State of Wyoming will provide 85 percent of this portion.

May’s flooding resulted in hundreds of thousands of dollars of damage to public and private infrastructure across the county and prompted a Presidential Disaster Declaration for the state. Heavy spring rains combined with a large snowpack caused more than 70 public locations to be wiped out, with the resulting damage including upended culverts, devastated bridges and a landslide on Oudin Hill.

Shortly after the declaration came through from the President on July 22, FEMA representatives began to work with Crook County staff to inspect and photograph the damage, take measurements and develop project worksheets. A total of 29 project reports were submitted, many of which combined several sites on one road.

Mona Road, at Beaver Creek, is also being evaluated for mitigation assistance. This project alone is estimated at more than $200,000.

“It has been a long and tedious process collecting all the data required by FEMA. Our Road & Bridge staff, in particular Morgan Ellsbury and Katie Allen, did an outstanding job providing accurate, timely and very detailed information to FEMA,” said Jim Pridgeon, Crook County Emergency Management Coordinator. “In fact, I was told several times by various representatives of FEMA and the Wyoming Office of Homeland Security (WoHS) how impressed they were with the quality and quantity of work provided by the staff under such strict deadlines and requirements.”
FEMA Project Specialist Isis Spanski, from FEMA Region 8 in Hawaii, spent two weeks in September in Crook County to finalize details, replacing two other Project Specialists who were reassigned in response to Hurricane Irene on the East Coast. After completing her work on October 5, Spanski thanked the County Commissioners and staff for their help in assisting FEMA with its reports.
Thanks to the diligence of Crook County staff, said Spanski, FEMA was able to complete its work early, despite the change of personnel. “Not only was Crook County prepared for FEMA’s arrival, it was the best-prepared county I have worked with,” she commented.
The funds from FEMA will be provided in the form of a grant from WoHS to Emergency Management, which will then be returned to the general fund. To date, almost $290,000 has been spent on flood-related repair work.