County, FEMA hold flood damage verification meeting

Blount County commissioners and the county engineer met with state and federal emergency management representatives Tuesday to go over preliminary estimates for flood damage sustained during the holiday storms.

The meeting room session was followed by a tour of selected sites around the county to survey actual damage sustained by county infrastructure and the extent of work required to restore affected roads and bridges to normal use by.

The purpose of the visit was to verify the general accuracy of preliminary damage estimates turned in by the county to support the request for federal disaster relief, according to Erik Jackson, emergency management program specialist for FEMA’s Region 4 out of Atlanta. With $309,728 in damages by preliminary estimate, Blount County easily exceeded the $204,000 threshold requirement to qualify for relief.

The disaster declaration, if subsequently made, will enable the county to qualify for substantial reimbursement for costs of repair to facilities. Both Jackson and Janice Doucet, state emergency management senior planner, said it is too soon to speculate on the extent of relief assistance that may be available if the disaster declaration is made.

The $309,728 in estimated damages breaks down by districts as follows:

District 1 $ 67,418
District 2 165,200
District 3 61,910
District 4 15,200

The total number of sites of reported damage to roads and bridges was 69. The breakdown by district:

District 1 12
District 2 20
District 3 28
District 4 6

In severity of damage, District 1 reported three sites with damage estimates exceeding $7,000. District 2 reported six sites with damage estimates exceeding $7,000. Two of those sites were probable bridge replacements where costs may substantially exceed $100,000 each. District 3 reported two sites with damage estimates exceeding $7,000. District 4 reported one site with damage estimate exceeding $7,000.

The following is a listing of those heavily-damaged sites by district.

District 1: Mount View Road ($19,931) and Meadow Lane ($25,000)

District 2: Hopewell Road ($8,000), Dalton Walker Road and Bridge ($100,000 +?), Gaines Road Bridge ($5,000+? – may require replacement at a cost many times this figure), Booker Branch Road ($15,000), Black Road ($15,000), and Ebell Road ($10,000)

District 3: Hicks Road ($9,509), Smith Road ($24,083)

District 4: Faulkner Road Bridge ($7,300)

Currently, three bridges in the county are still closed and will remain closed until extensive repairs or replacement can be completed. Those bridges are Dalton Walker Bridge and Gaines Road Bridge in District 2, and House Road Bridge in Oneonta near Limestone Springs. All roads in the county are open.