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PrattTribune - Pratt, KS
  • Federal funds could help pay for storm damage

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  • Federal emergency disaster funds could be headed for Pratt County if certain counties of Kansas are declared a federal disaster area.
    Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback has already declared a state of disaster emergency for 62 counties in Kansas, including Pratt, by the Kansas Emergency Management Act.
    The state has to meet a $3.2 million threshold in damages to be eligible for federal funds, said Tim Branscom, Pratt County Emergency manager.
    If approved, the public entities or private organizations that qualify could receive a reimbursement of 75 percent of damage repair costs, Branscom said.
    Some damage in the county will not qualify for federal aid. Any damage to a private residence or a business such as Great Plains Alfalfa, that suffered the loss of several irrigation systems, is not eligible for federal aid.
    The damage in Pratt County that falls under the disaster declaration is all electrical. The City of Pratt sustained about $50,000 damage to their electrical systems in the county, Ninnescah Electric had about $200,000 in damages and Southern Pioneer ranged from $400,000 to $500,000 in damages.
    Besides being responsible for electrical service inside the city limits, Pratt also has lines outside the city and some of those were damaged in the storms.
    The bulk of the costs for the entities were for replacing broken poles, damaged wire and for overtime hours.
    Getting federal funds takes several steps starting with evaluation of the damage following the storm.
    In the case of this group of storms, Ninnescah Electric and Southern Pioneer will evaluate their own damages and estimate the costs incurred from repairing those damages. That information will be sent to the Kansas Division of Emergency Management.
    The city will also evaluate their damages and send that information to Branscom who will in turn send it to KDEM as well.
    From there the state will send that information to the Federal Emergency Management Agency that will eventually determine if the state meets the requirements for federal aid.
    While the damage in Pratt County was to electrical systems, the damage to the other 61 counties in the disaster declaration includes electrical, flooding and flash floods.
    The state will easily meet the $3.2 million threshold to receive federal funds.
    However, it will take at least a couple of months for the information to be evaluated and the determination made if Pratt County will get federal dollars.
    The disaster declaration covers damage from storms that started on July 22 and continued up through the middle of August.
    Many places in Kansas, especially from the central section and eastward experienced rainfall amounts in August that surpassed what they would normally get for the entire year.
    Page 2 of 2 - The area suffered much damage from flooding and high winds some that were in excess of 100 mph.
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