Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster funds available

By David J. Coehrs - [email protected]

Fulton County’s Emergency Management Agency is sending a shout-out to the county’s political jurisdictions that could benefit from federal money to shore up bridges and other infrastructure damaged by Mother Nature.

With this year’s update of the county’s hazard mitigation plan, the local entities are invited to submit plans to repair or prevent damage caused by natural disasters. Federal funding would be available in 2017 via the hazard mitigation plan, a mandate of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Though the guidelines to acquire the federal assistance are stringent, County EMA Director Heather Kost said the 20 local jurisdictions should begin determining whether they qualify.

“If there are any projects, right now is the time,” she said.

FEMA will review plans under several categories including repetitive loss, severe repetitive loss, and insurance claims. Decisions are based on the amount of loss suffered through natural disaster, the repetitive nature of the disaster, and whether it affects other infrastructure as well.

FEMA will pay up to 75 percent of the cost of a project but requires a 25 percent local match for the remainder. Last year, $30 million was available nationwide. But because it’s federal funding potential candidates “are kind of at the mercy of the government budgeting process,” Kost said.

Fulton County’s political jurisdictions include townships, villages, the City of Wauseon, the county itself, and the board of county commissioners. They will have between late spring and the end of summer of 2016 to submit plans to the local EMA office at 123 Courthouse Plaza, Suite 4, in Wauseon. The office will screen the submissions and forward the applicable ones to FEMA, which makes the final selections.

The funding won’t be available until 2017.

A hazard mitigation plan, which FEMA requires of counties in all 50 states, is developed to determine what long-term actions and policies can be strategized to lessen the risks of hazards caused by future natural disasters, as well as to avoid repetitive damage. Each county must develop a hazard mitigation plan in order to receive federal non-emergency disaster assistance.

Fulton County’s five-year plan update was approved by the county commissioners in April, and subsequently approved by FEMA. All of the county’s political jurisdictions participated in the update, which concentrates on flooding, tornadoes, and straight line winds – natural elements recognized for their local potential to affect residents’ health and safety.

Fortunately, the county has only one significant flood plain, an area around County Road 23 in Franklin Township, Kost said. Residents there have filed repetitive insurance claims over the past couple of years.

Plans can be relayed by calling the county EMA office at 419-337-9207.

By David J. Coehrs

[email protected]

David J. Coehrs can be reached at 419-335-2010.

David J. Coehrs can be reached at 419-335-2010.