Carbon County Will Not Receive FEMA Assistance, County Explores Other Options

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Carbon County Sheriff’s Office Press Release

Carbon County residents may have noticed a team of federal, state and local officials touring communities affected by the Aug. 4 flooding. These visits were part of an assessment to determine if the county had enough damage that would qualify for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) or Small Business Administration (SBA) assistance.

The storm caused flooding throughout Carbon County (Helper, Spring Glen, Kenilworth, Carbonville, Westwood and Price) and prompted the county and the Utah Division of Emergency Management to request a damage assessment from FEMA and the SBA.

FEMA, Utah Division of Emergency Management and Carbon County, including Helper and Price cities, conducted a joint assessment of the damage on Aug. 13-15 to find out if any damage to public or private property was eligible for reimbursement under FEMA’s Public Assistance or Individual Assistance programs.

The assessments revealed that actual damages to public infrastructure were far below a level where the state would request FEMA assistance, but SBA assistance is likely to come in the form of low-interest loans.

Here are the results of the joint assessment:

Public infrastructure: The teams identified some flood related costs to public infrastructure, such as culverts, bridges and roads, as well as emergency work and debris removal costs. Through the assessments, we identified some damages to public infrastructure; those damage amounts are far below a level that the state would normally request assistance. Normally, the state wouldn’t request a declaration unless there was at least $3.8 million in damage to infrastructure. Damage to public infrastructure throughout Carbon County was estimated by the joint assessment teams to be approximately $500,000. The teams also identified projects that can mitigate future flood damage.

Private property: Everyone hates mud in their homes and in their basements. We hate seeing that happen to the good people of Carbon County, but mud in basements typically doesn’t render a home uninhabitable. Very few homes became uninhabitable due to the Aug. 4 flooding. According to the results of the assessment for individual assistance, no homes were destroyed, 11 homes had major damage, 49 had minor damage and 104 were assessed as affected. What this means is that a majority of the homes that were affected are still habitable. The damage, though difficult for homeowners to shoulder, should prompt the community to come together to devise a solution.

It wouldn’t be prudent for the state of Utah to request a presidential declaration through FEMA for this type of damage. As a result, we will not be receiving FEMA assistance. We conducted the assessments because we wanted to be diligent and explore all our options. We knew this was a possibility going into the process.

The assessments still did a lot of good:
• They helped the county get a better picture of damage costs
• They identified future mitigation projects
• They increased local officials familiarity with FEMA programs
• They built good partnerships between local, state and federal government
• They helped point the state/local officials to other sources of assistance, such as SBA, faith-based groups and voluntary agencies

We are hopeful the SBA may be providing assistance later this week with low interest loans for the victims of the flooding. The SBA will be providing more information in the near future.

We would like to thank all of the volunteers who came out and assisted the affected homeowners and families during their time of need in our community. We appreciate all the assistance we received from the various local businesses, faith-based groups, Helper City, Price City, Price River Water Improvement District, Emery County Sheriff’s Office, Utaqh Department of Transportation, Southeastern Utah District Health Department, Southeastern Utah Association of Local Governments, State of Utah Division of Emergency Management and the American Red Cross.

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