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FEMA funds ice damage, flooding falls short PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 13 September 2017 12:12

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Flood damage did not reach threshold for FEMA funding, City receives almost $1 million for ice damage



ELLY GRIMM
• Leader & Times


The Liberal community has been battered with nearly every type of weather imaginable throughout 2017, and Tuesday evening saw the Liberal City Commission discuss and accept federal funds for the January ice storms. 

“I was in contact with Greg Standard this afternoon, the Seward County Emergency Management Director, and he wanted me to share something with the commission, so here’s his statement” Liberal Mayor Joe Denoyer began. “Seward County has declared three disasters so far in 2017. The first was the ice storm in January, which caused more than $1 million in damage in Liberal and Seward County. This disaster became a federal disaster, and now has resulted in reimbursements to the local government.”

The second of these disasters, Denoyer said, was the later winter snowstorm in April. 

“This created a large amount of debris as well as snow, and this disaster was also declared as a federal disaster,” Denoyer continued from Standard’s statement. “This disaster is still in the process of being completed by state and federal agencies, and Seward County and Liberal will receive reimbursements for costs incurred at a later date.”

The third of these disaster declarations was in response to the heavy rains and flooding that occurred in mid-August. 

“Seward County has declared a state of local disaster, and this was in response to substantial damage to property, and many homes were affected, some extensively, and most will not be eligible for insurance coverage,” Denoyer continued. “If certain dollar losses exceeded $4.2 million across the state of Kansas, the state itself may find itself unable to support the counties that declared a local disaster. In that case, the state would also declare a state disaster for the affected counties. Once the State of Kansas declares a disaster, the governor may request a presidential or federal disaster declaration, and once the president declares that, FEMA is called in to assess the situation and consider what work may be supported by the federal government. Once FEMA finds there are eligible expenses or needs, they may fund certain work. The City of Liberal provided the following damage assessments to the State of Kansas: Seward County Landfill, $130,000; Seward County Courthouse and Administration, $4,000; City of Liberal Public Works, $30,000; City of Liberal Parks and Recreation, $130,000; City of Liberal Fire Department, $2,000; and USD 480, $4,000. Seward County and Liberal easily exceeded the $86,000 threshold to qualify as a county, but unfortunately, after the State of Kansas consulted with all affected counties, the total costs did not reach the $4.2 million threshold, so no FEMA funding will be available to the county from the flooding in August.”

After ultimately unanimously voting to accept the $902,495.29 in FEMA and KDEM funds, the commission also unanimously voted to reimburse $40,000 to the Liberal Pride Citywide 1-cent sales tax funds used to start the cleanup, and also approved the transfer of $74,367.53 of the FEMA and KDEM funds to the departments that earned employee wages and benefits as a result of those cleanup efforts. The commission also unanimously voted to incur $37,477 in operational expenses (i.e. fuel and equipment expenses, etc.) as a result of the storm cleanup efforts, and also unanimously voted to set aside $2,420.29 of the FEMA and KDEM funds that came about from the cleanup efforts of Seward County Community College. To conclude the discussion, the commission also unanimously voted to transfer the remaining $788,230.47 in FEMA and KDEM funds to the equipment reserve fund for future needs.

Local development was also a hot topic for the commission as the City of Liberal’s contract with Retail Strategies was up for renewal Tuesday evening. 

“We’ve been working with Retail Strategies out of Birmingham, Alabama for three years, and it’s time for renewal. What we’re asking is we renew this contract for an additional year,” Economic Development Director Jeff Parsons said. “The price they’re asking for is the same as we paid last year, $28,000. They’ve been doing a great job. Later this week, Freddy’s is going to open, and we can point to Retail Strategies. They’re the reason Freddy’s here and opening, we probably wouldn’t have had a shot in getting them here without Retail Strategies.”

Parsons said the City is working with Retail Strategies for another possible project, more information of which is expected to come in the near future. Ultimately, the commission unanimously approved renewing the contract with Retail Strategies. 

“I will also mention the contract has bounced back and forth between Shirla [McQueen] and retail strategies,” Parsons said. “She’s crafted this as an addendum to the original contract, not a new contract.”

 

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About The High Plains Daily Leader

The High Plains Daily Leader and Southwest Daily Times are published Sunday through Friday and reaches homes throughout the Liberal, Kansas retail trade zone. The Leader & Times is the official newspaper of Seward County, USD No. 480, USD No. 483 and the cities of Liberal and Kismet.  The Leader & Times is a member of the Liberal Chamber of Commerce, the Kansas Press Association and the Associated Press.

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