State and federal emergency management officials toured parts of Columbia County Tuesday to estimate the amount of damage caused by last week’s ice storm. The results of those assessments will help determine if the county and the state will receive any reimbursement for the emergency costs and recovery expenses.
Representatives from the Georgia and Federal Emergency Management Agencies met with county Emergency and Operations Director Pam Tucker before heading out with county personnel and Public Works directors from Harlem and Grovetown to evaluate the hardest hit areas for the Preliminary Damage Assessment.
“It’s going to be one day,” Tucker said of the assessment. “We’ve got one shot.”
Groups focusing on Public Damage Assistance headed out to some of the most damaged neighborhoods including Woodbridge and Camelot. In those areas, the assessors looked at and estimated the number of cubic yards of debris left on and removed from public rights of way. They estimated that the storm caused more than 1,750 cubic yards of debris in Woodbridge alone.
“It’s an estimate, but it needs to be a good estimate,” GEMA representative Marty Itzkowitz said.
To meet the federal guidelines for a “declaration,” Tucker said the storm had to have caused at least $434,185.50 in damages. That amount is based on population. FEMA officials will determine the total damage based on $10 per cubic yard of debris.
Statewide, damages must meet a minimum of $13,465,837.67 for any local government to get a declaration.
Once compiled, figures including damage estimates and costs of emergency response during the disaster will be passed along to FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security for evaluation. That agency will make a recommendation to the president.
Tucker said the county incurred $386,854.65 in personnel costs as a result of the ice storm and $22,579.75 in equipment and materials. The debris removal will be the bulk of the cost, but that cost has not yet been determined, Tucker said.
Based on preliminary calculations, Tucker said the county should easily meet the county threshhold.
A contractor hired to remove debris from the ice storm began collection Wednesday. The contractor will haul away limbs and trees put at the street of public and private roads.