By Rick Hiduk
(also published in the Rocket-Courier)
A much anticipated disaster declaration by the president of the United States was finally announced last week, and municipalities in Wyoming County will begin receiving funds to cover costs attributed to flash flooding in early to mid August.
“It’s a good declaration,” said county EMA director Gene Dziak. “But this is public assistance. This has nothing to do with individuals yet. We’re still waiting to see how that plays out.”
Applications for public and individual assistance were presented simultaneously, Dziak explained. “Everything was submitted at one time. Those two went hand-in-hand to the feds.” He is not aware of anyone in the state getting an individual assistance declaration yet, but is hopeful that it will soon follow.
Dziak expects to hear from PEMA officials next week as to when representatives will be in the county to conduct application briefings to which officials from municipalities that submitted damage reports will be invited.
“We’ll be passing out project worksheets and going from there,” he noted. “Once we get them compiled, and get the numbers, then we’ll know how much money we’re getting. Collectively, we’re well over a million dollars.”
The public assistance funds can be used for a variety of repair and infrastructure projects, including debris removal that fall under seven categories covering emergency and permanent work. Many of the tasks were completed shortly after the floods, and municipalities where work was well-documented can receive reimbursements.
“There’s still a lot of moving pieces to this puzzle,” said Dziak, citing $240,000 in repairs to the Catlin Hollow Bridge in North Branch Township as a “prime example.” The combination of structural repair and engineering involved in the project can fall under different classifications. “Some is ‘hazard mitigation,’ and some is ‘disaster,’” he explained. Nonetheless, Dziak expects that the county will recoup most of the expense.