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County looking for federal aid after June flooding

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County looking for federal aid after June flooding

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HARTINGTON - Cedar County is asking the federal government for assistance for road and bridge repairs following a late June rain storm that dropped four-six inches of rain here.

When Road Supt. Carla Schmidt received the photos from Commissioner Dave McGregor of the damage done by the heavy rainfall in late June, she didn’t think it was that bad. But when she first saw all the damage around the busy, gravel intersection at Road 881 and Avenue 575, she was absolutely shocked.

“The pictures didn’t do it justice,” Schmidt said. 

During the last weekend in June, Schmidt and Emergency Manager Kevin Garvin speculate the area received 4 to 6 inches of rain which caused this damage. According to Schmidt, it seemed like the water table rose so high that the road “schluffed off.” 

Garvin has been helping Schmidt, McGregor and other counties through the process of applying for funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency or FEMA and the Nebraska Federal Emergency Management Agency or NEMA.  

“Since this was such a wide spread heavy rain event, we’ve joined several other counties and asked for financial assistance from FEMA,” Garvin said. 

According to Garvin, in order to obtain funds from FEMA the state must have at least $2.5 million in damages and follow different requirements such as procuring engineers. 

The process for applying for FEMA starts with procuring, at minimum, five engineers to assess the damage and create a proposal for Schmidt and McGregor to review.  

As of right now, McGregor said they will not know the costs behind this damage until they receive the proposals from the engineers.  

In case FEMA funds do not go through, McGregor said that the county will proceed just like any other road work case and it would be a county expense. However, along with other road work cases McGregor said it might be more beneficial to get a contractor. 

“I know over a period of time we could get this done, but we have other projects,” McGregor said. “Obviously this is something that needs to get done and it’s important, but the man power and time that it’ll take to do it…I’m just going to have to contract this out.” 

The last time Cedar County received support from FEMA was July 2014 when a tornado came traveled through Coleridge. According to Garvin, this disaster is much different from most disaster and damages the county has had. 

“I’m not going to say easy disaster or easy damages but we’re used to tornadoes and things of that nature where it goes and tears up a whole wide path and you’ve got miles and miles of damage,” Garvin said. “This one is very strange and confined.”

Schmidt said that presently the road is passable but if it continues to deteriorate before they can start working on it they may have to close the road. 

“If we get more rain, it’s hard to tell whats going to happen,” Schmidt said. “We keep an eye on it and we keep it barricaded.”

Schmidt and McGregor are expecting proposals from the engineers by July 16, 2018 and then will conduct interviews. Until then, they will proceed as normal, Garvin said.