McPherson County may be applying for a record amount of federal disaster assistance as a result of this summer’s flooding, said Dillard Webster, McPherson County Emergency Management director.
Local governments in the county are tallying up the damage. It may still be weeks or months before final figures are compiled.
The county’s threshold to declare a disaster was $100,000, which was done on Aug. 1. The initial amount presented in that declaration was $360,000. Webster said the final public losses could go as high as $500,000.
The state later declared a statewide disaster based on damage in 62 counties.
Representatives with the Kansas Department of Emergency Management and the Federal Emergency Management Administration met with local officials Aug. 28. Twenty-seven people attended, representing the cities of McPherson, Moundridge and Lindsborg, along with 14 of the 25 townships and the McPherson County Public Works.
FEMA is working with these local entities to determine final damage estimates to local infrastructure.
Townships have been hit hard financially by the summer storms.
Meridian Township, which is east of Moundridge, experienced about $20,000 in damage, Gary Huxman, the township’s clerk, said. The township has a budget of only about $70,000 annually.
Other townships have been hit even harder with some having upward of $100,000 in damages.
As drainage ditches filled, water flowed over gravel roads in rural areas of the county. The top sections of roads washed away and drainage ditches filled with rock and sand. If the ditches are cleared of debris, further flooding could occur and cause more damage.
“If we didn’t have FEMA, I don’t know what we would do,” Huxman said. “We would be in trouble. We still have four months to go.”
McPherson County Public Works reported less damage.
Tom Kramer, public works director, said the county has yet to submit a final damage estimate, but he thought the county had spent about $30,000. This included equipment time, overtime for emergency call outs and road repairs.
The county’s gravel roads suffered similar damage to the townships’ roads. In addition, the county has had to replace shoulders along paved roads that were washed away when flood waters flowed over the roads.
The county made all roads passable, but some permanent repairs still need to be done. Kramer said public works is trying to complete its summer maintenance work, which was put on hold because of the rain, before foul weather begins. He estimated the county has about a month’s worth of storm damage repairs.
Sixty-nine private properties received $1.9 million in damages after a wall of water washed down streets in north Lindsborg July 29.. A storm dropped 5 inches of rain on the city in about an hour and a half, and the city’s drainage system, which was already saturated from previous rains, could not handle the water.
Page 2 of 2 - Water filled basements and stranded vehicles. Some residents had to be rescued from their homes in boats.
Despite the dramatic personal losses, the city had almost no damage to its infrastructure.
“The water just ran across city streets,” Greg DuMars, Lindsborg city administrator, said.
Unless the flooding in Kansas would be declared a national disaster by President Obama, which is unlikely, no federal aid will be available for private property losses.
DuMars said he met with local bankers and has encouraged homeowners to talk to their mortgage holders or local banks about the possibility of getting loans to make repairs.
“I think we have an extremely resilient community,” Du Mars said. “We are moving forward with the understanding we will have challenges, but with a positive approach.”
Nick Gregory, McPherson city administrator, said McPherson also had little damage to city infrastructure due to the flooding.
The city’s drainage system takes the bulk of the water through the city’s parks. This prevented damage to private properties.
Most of the city’s costs will be to replace turf at the parks and at the golf course, as water sat on these area for two weeks. The city commission on Monday agreed to spend $15,000 on grass seed for reseeding the damaged areas.
“Overall, during the flooding, McPherson was spared,” Gregory said.