County 'hopeful' to for FEMA declaration after flooding

Henry County officials are “hopeful” to be eligible for Federal Emergency Management Agency’s disaster declaration for assistance after flooding.

County engineer Jake Hotchkiss said that his department is documenting flood damage across the county as they repair roads. They are working with Henry County Emergency Management to submit information to Homeland Security in the hope of getting a disaster declaration.

“In the meantime, we’re spending the money to work on the roads,” Hotchkiss said during a Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, June 4. “It’s about whether or not we get reimbursed for it. I’m hopeful to receive some funds.”

The Roads Department has been cleaning out ditches and putting rock on roads where they can since heavy rains last week caused rivers in Henry County to drastically flood their banks. Hotchkiss said there was flash flooding at the Skunk River, Crooked Creek, Cedar Creek and Big Creek.

As of Tuesday morning, the Roads Department was working on repairs on 253rd Street (Oakland Mills Road), putting together a plan to repair 310th Street, and working on resetting a pipe on Graham Avenue between 150th and 160th.

Hotchkiss said that the repair on 310th street will likely be a “pretty costly project” and until it’s done roadblocks will remain up. The street still is seeing an active slide, and the county is likely to see more areas in active slide as water goes down, Hotchkiss said.

“The road will remain closed indefinitely until plans are drawn up and repairs are made,” Hotchkiss said.

The repair on Graham Avenue is lower priority because it’s on a dirt road, Hotchkiss said. A 10-foot pipe washed out because of flooding and needs to be reset.

This week, W55 Franklin Avenue bridge is closed for construction and the contractor has set up erosion control and will be moving equipment in this week.

The J20 bridge project by Lowell has been delayed because of river levels.

Last week, the Roads Department was out closing roads and repairing damage where they could while waiting for water to go down. They worked on reclaiming rock that washedoff the roads and hauled rock to repair wash outs. On Thursday, May 30, a flagged was set up on J20 to keep the road open to the public despite flooding.

The Roads Department also seeded spots from culvert projects, worked on signs, installed crossroad pipe on Brenton Avenue and continued mowing shoulders.