Meadville Tribune

Local News

November 12, 2013

Application process begins for federal funding in wake of summer flooding

MEADVILLE — Ten municipalities sustaining significant damage from the continuous flooding between June 26 and July 11 recently met with federal, Pennsylvania and Crawford County emergency management agencies as well as Crawford County Planning Department personnel to begin the process of applying for federal funding to reimburse the cost of responding to and recovering from the destruction.

Municipalities obtaining the federal funding include: Beaver Township, Springboro Borough, Conneaut Township, Summerhill Township, Vernon Township, City of Meadville, West Mead Township, East Mead Township, Troy Township and Bloomfield Township.

In Meadville, for example, work is still under way to repair the box culvert carrying Neason Run from Grove Street to French Creek, primarily under the roadway known as Pine Alley. During the flood, the top of the culvert, which is basically a four-sided concrete box, was blown out in five different locations by the force of water that built up when the culvert became blocked with debris.

The most obvious damage occurred where the culvert passes under Market Street between the senior center and McDonald’s restaurant. The roadway remains closed indefinitely, although the removal of debris was almost complete as of Monday and plans are in place for city workers to construct concrete slabs to replace damaged sections of the culvert.

“There was a lot of debris that had to be dragged out a little bit at a time,” Joe Giggler, acting supervisor of the city’s public works department, said Monday. The problem occurred when the “trash rack” installed just east of Grove Street to prevent water-borne debris from entering the culvert was blown out of place by the force of the water, allowing everything coming down the hill to enter and subsequently block the culvert.

“I have a lot of investigating to do before I can see if I can get money for other locations that sustained damage, but without a question we will be able to get money for the Neason Run culvert,” Rick Williams, the city’s development director, said Monday. According to Williams, the damage at each individual location must meet a $1,000 threshold to qualify for funds.

“We’re pleased that federal funding will be coming to Crawford County municipalities to help recover from this disaster,” said Francis Weiderspahn Jr., chairman of the Crawford County Board of Commissioners. “Their budgets are very limited, and this disaster has caused undue stress on several municipalities.”

Under Presidential Public Assistance Declaration FEMA-4149-DR, municipalities are not only eligible for reimbursement and costs associated with the response and restoration to previous conditions, but they are also eligible for hazard mitigation funding to help lessen the impact of such events in the future.

During the continuous flooding events, Crawford County emergency management agencies collected damage assessments from any of the 51 municipalities. The county and state then forwarded that information to the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency. To be eligible for federal financial assistance through the Robert T. Stafford Act, Crawford County must reach $310,000 worth of damages or response costs and the commonwealth must reach $17 million threshold from the 67 counties.

“Through joint efforts of municipal, county, state and federal agencies and personnel, we’ve collectively been able to help those most affected and are still struggling from the effects of the flooding,” said Allen W. Clark, Crawford County EMA director.

During the next several months, project specialists will meet with municipalities to look at their damages and suggest mitigation steps. According to Clark, more than $500,000 could come to Crawford County municipalities from FEMA and PEMA. Local municipalities most recently received federal relief for flooding in July 2003.

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