Efforts commended for speedy flood damage estimates

Gov. Tom Wolf’s two disaster declarations are “a big step” forward for recovery efforts after the Oct. 21 flash flood reached up to $33.2 million in estimated damages.

The county commissioners commended the work of the local emergency teams, municipalities and Department of Public Safety for their work to assess the damage at the local level and submit the information to the state.

In Lycoming County the state Department of Transportation reported $10.2 million worth of damage to roads and bridges.

Additionally, John Yingling, director of public safety, reported that the highest level of damage was found in McIntyre Township at $1.6 million. Following close behind in damage assessment are Gamble and Cascade townships, Yingling added.

“It was a team effort to get the information,” Yingling said. “There was a lot of work that went into getting that information to the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency for the governor to submit.”

Directly following the flood, Wolf came to the county to speak with residents and emergency crews, offering his support. While here he said the possibility of getting federal funds would depend on if the state could reach the threshold of $18.1 million to become eligible.

“Without you guys doing the work and getting it to (Wolf) quickly we wouldn’t have gotten this result,” Commissioner Jack McKernan said.

One declaration will be sent to the president through the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Eligible expenses include costs associated with paying overtime, repairs to damaged infrastructure, equipment rentals, materials, search and rescue operations, and opening and operating shelters.

The funds would reimburse up to 75 percent of expenses incurred by local, county and state governments, as well as certain eligible non-profits, but will not be available for private citizens or private businesses, according to the PEMA.

It is unknown at this point if the remaining 25 percent of the damage will be paid with state or county funds, Yingling said.

The second declaration will be sent to the U.S. Small Business Administration and would provide low-interest loans to homeowners, rental tenants and businesses with uninsured losses of 40 percent or more of their estimated fair market value. According to the administration, at least 25 potential applicants sustained eligible losses in Lycoming and Centre counties.