County FEMA aid tops half a million

Published 5:46 pm Tuesday, August 23, 2011

More than 100 days after a tornado outbreak ravaged much of south-central Marengo County, more than half a million dollars in aid has been awarded to its victims.

To-date, 530 residents have applied for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency with $569,683 awarded.

In the wake of April’s deadly outbreak, 9.3 million cubic yards of dry debris has been picked up, including 4.9 million cubic yards by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and 4.4 million cubic yards removed by the private sector.

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In hopes of offering better safeguards for any future outbreaks, the Marengo County Emergency Management Agency is seeking a federal grant that could install up to five community storm shelters around the county.

County EMA Director Kevin McKinney said his office would seek funding to install shelters at Foscue Park, Nanafalia, Faunsdale, Dixon’s Mills and at St. Paul Church.

Each shelter could accommodate up to 50 people.

Also, as part of the grant, local homeowners could seek reimbursement for constructing a shelter at their homes.

“The trick is that these are reimbursement grants,” McKinney said.

“The homeowner would be out of pocket that money until the reimbursement came through.”

Another snag is any homeowner who purchased or constructed a storm shelter previously would not be eligible for reimbursement. Typically, a shelter of this kind could house between seven to 10 people at a cost of approximately $8,000.

McKinney said he expected to finalize the paperwork Friday and send to FEMA in advance of the Sept. 1 deadline.

“Grants are awarded based on need,” McKinney said. “That we don’t currently have any formal shelters in the county, we think our chances are pretty good.”