The ice from February’s storm has long melted. Power is restored to thousands of Columbia County residents and downed trees and debris have long been removed.
But the aftermath of the ice storm is ongoing as county Emergency and Operations Division Director Pam Tucker and her staff continue to wade through the mass of paperwork to get reimbursed for storm response costs and oversee the last bit of debris removal.
“It’s not over,” Tucker said. “The contractor continues to haul out the mulch from the five temporary sites it was taken to when it was picked up from the rights of way. That will take six to eight more weeks to finish.”
The good news is that the county will foot only a small portion of the nearly $10 million tab for the storm costs under a Presidential Disaster Declaration.
“The county’s local match will end up being around $500,000,” Tucker said, adding that much of that is personnel costs that have already been paid.
County officials recently approved an agreement for reimbursement from FEMA and GEMA for $3,394,771.85, the first claim under the declaration for the debris removal and monitoring expenses for the first 30 days after the winter storm. Grovetown also will reimburse the county $13,000.33 for its portion of the local match for debris removal the county contractor performed inside the city.
Tucker said her office has already filed for the second claim for the 31-90 days after the storm in late May. She expects the county to receive about $4.8 million of the $5.3 million costs during that time frame.
Two more claims, for much smaller amounts, for 91-180 days and emergency response personnel costs still need to be filed.
Tucker said she estimates the storm cost the county about $9.7 million with most of that to be repaid. Having a FEMA-approved Debris Management Plan and pre-event contracts for debris removal before the storm got the county extra FEMA incentives and having met 10 GEMA planning criteria earned state incentives.
“When it’s all said and done, our pre-planning efforts will have saved the county at least $437,000,” Tucker said.
Though the efforts to resolve the damage of the ice storm continues for Tucker and her staff, operations are returning to ordinary in her office, where pre-planning for disasters is the norm.
“It’s getting bettter,” Tucker said, “and we are starting to return to normal operations as each day goes by.”