FEMA Money to be Available for Municipal Repairs

Flooding as it appeared Sept. 2 (at top) at the Schwenksville Borough Authority water treatment plant

HARRISBURG PA – As the extent and cost of damage caused by Tropical Storm Ida became clear during the past five weeks, federal repair and replacement funding and other assistance went first to individuals and families to make storm-swept and flooded homes livable again, then to get struggling businesses up and running.

Now, finally, the Federal and Pennsylvania Emergency Management agencies said Friday (Oct. 8, 2021), municipal governments and qualified non-profit organizations will get opportunities to receive help as well.

The federal agency, FEMA, said aid has been granted to augment state and local recovery efforts in areas stricken by Ida. So far only three counties – Montgomery, Chester, and Bucks – have been designated for its “public assistance,” it announced. That means local governments and certain non-profits can apply to have the agency pay up to 75 percent of repair costs.

They must cover the remaining 25 percent themselves.

In broadly inclusive categories, FEMA is preparing to pay for debris removal, emergency protective measures, roads and bridges, water control facilities like water tanks or sewer systems, buildings and equipment like schools and municipal offices, utilities, and parks, recreational facilities, and other items.

Projects will be approved “only if they are necessary as a direct result of storm damage,” and only if the damage occurred during a specific storm “time-frame.” If applicants have partial or full insurance coverage for some damages, FEMA said it would “deduct from eligible costs the amount of insurance proceeds, actual or anticipated, before providing funds” for remaining work.

Assuming municipalities meet the criteria, though, the assistance could be a big lift in places like the Borough of Schwenksville. Its new borough hall was catastrophically flooded due to Ida’s rainfall, and its sewer treatment plant severely crippled. The expense of those fixes could run into hundreds of thousands of dollars just to return facilities to pre-disaster conditions.

The agency is thinking proactively too, it added. “In cases where small improvements may reduce the risk of future disaster damage,” the agency said it “may pay for cost-effective mitigation measures. For example, FEMA may cover the cost of such projects as increasing the size of a culvert if the increase could prevent future flooding,” it stated.

Photo by The Posts