Federal aid on the way

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 25, 2004

DEMOPOLIS – City officials here, in Linden and officials with Marengo County took the first step toward receiving federal disaster assistance Friday, meeting with a Federal Emergency Management public assistance coordinator.

Tom Gould met with Demopolis officials about 11 a.m. to conduct a preliminary disaster assessment, collecting cost figures on public employee time, equipment costs, overtime and damage to public buildings and infrastructure.

“The PDA justifies the disaster declaration,” Gould told city officials including Mayor Austin Caldwell, Mayor-elect Cecil Williamson, various department heads and representatives from Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital, also a public entity.

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City Clerk Vickie Taylor is serving as the city’s liaison with FEMA.

“What we’re looking for are gross numbers to give us a good, broad quantitative means of establishing the impact [from Hurricane Ivan],” Gould said.

Taylor said that city hall, the library, the street department, the fire station’s temporary station downtown, and the Recreation Department all sustained varying degrees of roof damage.

BWWMH’s Derrick Morrison said the hospital had sustained about $40,000 in damages, including damage to the hospitals emergency power generators.

Street Department Director Clarence Brooker estimated at least 100,000 cubic yards of storm debris would be removed from the city in the next month.

Brooker said he believed there was more debris from Ivan than from the winter storm of 1994.

“That had been our worst to deal with until this storm,” Brooker told Gould.

City horticulturalist Linda Teaford said the storm did about $3,000 in damages to the city’s greenhouse and about $1,000 – $1,800 in damages to the plants.

The federal government plans to reimburse local jurisdictions at a 100 percent level for labor, equipment costs and emergency protective services for the first 72 hours of the storm under a federal emergency declaration. Reimbursements beyond the first 72 hours will be determined during actual disaster project detailing that will come later in the disaster assistance process.

“Right now we are trying to establish a global cost to justify a [disaster] declaration,” Gould told the officials.

Following the meeting with Demopolis officials, Gould and County EMA Director Kevin McKinney, who Taylor invited to the meeting, headed to Linden to develop similar cost estimates for the county and City of Linden.

Taylor said she expected to meet with FEMA individual assistance field representatives later in the day Friday.

On Thursday, Gov. Bob Riley announced that Hale, Greene, Marengo, Perry and Sumter counties had been added to the president’s major disaster declaration for individual assistance, clearing the way for federal disaster aid to flow to homeowners and renters victimized by the hurricane, which moved through West Alabama as a category 1 storm.

McKinney said countywide about 200 homes had sustained some storm damage. Less than five he categorized as destroyed.