PrattTribune - Pratt, KS
  • County takes action for disaster aid

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  • Pratt street crews have spent a lot of regular and a lot of overtime hours pushing snow and clearing streets. That overtime has cost the city a lot of money.
    In an effort to get some of that funding back, the county commissioners have declared a local disaster. A local disaster is any event that overwhelms the local entities abilities to take care of the event.
    To qualify for a local disaster, the county has to meet a specific monetary threshold. Pratt County has to accumulate at least $31,500 in damages and overtime cost to be eligible for a disaster payment, said Tim Branscom, Pratt County Emergency manager.
    Only certain entities are eligible for reimbursement. Government agencies and non-profit agencies qualify. The city of Pratt and Ninnescah Electric would both qualify for disaster relief, Branscom said.
    Unfortunately, residential damage does not qualify for federal disaster dollars.
    Following two snowstorms in February, Pratt County easily meets the necessary threshold to make application and possibly get reimbursed, Branscom said.
    That is the first step in getting federal disaster aid. In order for Pratt to receive federal disaster funds, they have to go through the state and they have to qualify as well.
    The state also has to meet a financial threshold before they applying for federal disaster funds. In order to qualify for federal disaster funds, Kansas must have a total of $3.5 million from across the state to meet that limit. Each area in Kansas where damage took place will send their estimate to the state and that total will determine if the state can qualify.
    The city and county will estimate the amount of overtime hours and submit it to Topeka.
    If a county doesn't meet the eligibility amount, they will go ahead and make a disaster declaration to help the state meet their threshold number and apply for disaster aid, Branscom said.
    If the state meets the threshold, the Kansas Division of Emergency Management will forward the disaster declaration to Washington D.C. for consideration at the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
    If FEMA approves the state disaster declaration, then funds will flow to KDEM and then down to the various counties, Branscom said.
    The amount the city and county would get would probably not be the full amount on the application but it would be a big chunk of the cost.
    If a county doesn't file for disaster relief before the state sends their appeal to FEMA, then that county can't file after the fact. So it's very important to file for disaster relief in a timely fashion in order to get disaster funds.
    With the declaration submitted, the county will just have to wait and see if the state declaration is accepted at FEMA.
    Page 2 of 2 - With the sun finally coming out and temperatures warming, the ice and snow should melt quickly. Hopefully the decision on disaster relief will also come quickly for the state and the county.
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