Columbia, Boone look to FEMA for winter storm relief

Boone County and Columbia Public Works have spent about $650,000.
Sunday, February 4, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 10:51 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Costs related to the January ice storms have piled up and Boone County is looking to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for assistance.

The Columbia Public Works Department budgeted about $178,000 for snow and ice removal for 2007. By Jan. 12, it had already gone over budget, spending close to $250,000, said Jim McKinnon, the street superintendent in Columbia.


Mike Crane uses a front loader to remove snow on Jan. 17. Boone County is looking to the federal government to help pay for costs incurred during the recent ice storm cleanup. (WM. Srite/Missourian)

“The snow budget is a separate part of the regular budget,” McKinnon said, “but the department will have to make some cuts in other areas. We won’t be able to buy as much asphalt and do as much work this summer.”

McKinnon did say that going over budget will not have an effect on future snow and ice removal for the year. Those services will be provided as the need arises.

The Boone County Public Works Department estimated storm-related costs totaling $333,700, said Chip Estabrooks, manager of the Maintenance Operations Division.

“The storm alone took a little over $30,000 of our $50,000 overtime budget,” Estabrooks said.

The Boone County department does not have a separate line-item for snow and ice removal, making it hard to tell at this point what implications the storm costs have on its budget.

But the storm brought costs that go beyond just the Columbia and Boone County public works departments. It also prompted the need for: overtime work in law enforcement, fire districts and the 911 center; contracted labor for snow and ice removal for the Columbia School District and MU; and equipment and labor costs across many Boone County communities.

For these costs, which are estimated at $650,000, Columbia and Boone County Emergency Management director James McNabb is looking to FEMA for assistance through a federal declaration of disaster.

Boone County was not one of the 40 Missouri counties included in the original declaration of disaster for the ice storms this January, so it must apply for FEMA’s Public Assistance by submitting a Preliminary Damage Assessment.

To be declared a state of disaster, Boone County must have incurred costs and damages directly related to the storm exceeding $3.05 per capita. This comes to about $413,134 total for the county, based on 2000 census figures. Estimates are rough at this time, but the numbers are well above that minimum threshold, McNabb said.

“Mostly what we’re looking at is costs,” McNabb said, stressing that there was no physical damage reported to public property in the county. Individual costs and damages are not part of the costs submitted to FEMA for Public Assistance.

McNabb met with a Federal and State Emergency Agency joint team Jan. 26 to discuss the estimated costs directly related to the storm. The next step is to wait for a decision, McNabb said.

“If we get added on to the declaration, then the work really begins,” he said.

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