COOS COUNTY — Coos County Commissioners approved a contract this week with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to move along in its process in receiving federal funding to repair a number of damaged roads left behind from February's winter storm.
The storm, which produced over 10 inches of rainfall in Coos County as well as flooding on the Coquille River, caused major damage to numerous roadways throughout the area most of which included blown out culverts.
According to Coos County Roadmaster John Rowe, a number of damage assessments were conducted by both local officials and FEMA representatives who recently identified a total of 12 road projects. Two of the projects have already been completed which leaves them with 10 still in need of emergency repair.
As of now, the storm is believed to have caused about $524,000 worth of damages to those 12 identified roads projects some of which included costs for removing fallen debris from roadways.
Shortly after the storm had passed, Coos County was joined by Curry, Douglas, Jefferson and Lane counties in declaring a local state of emergency.
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown followed behind issuing a state of emergency in late February allowing for the Oregon Office of Emergency Management (OEM) to distribute its resources.
A preliminary damage assessment by OEM and FEMA in April found the storm had caused about $30 million in damages in all five counties. A month later, President Donald Trump approved the disaster declaration and FEMA announced it will make its federal disaster assistance funds available to the counties impacted by the storm.
According to the contract approved by local county commissioners, FEMA will cover approximately 75 percent of the costs leaving the remaining 25 percent to be paid for by the county.
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The Coos County Road Department is also working with the Oregon division of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration for assistance on repairs under its emergency relief program.
According to Rowe, the agency has already reviewed and approved five of its six additional road projects in need of repair which also were caused by the February winter storm. The estimated costs to repair those five road projects totals to about $592,000. The sixth project he said is still under review and is estimated to be an additional $97,000.
“We also have three other projects that haven’t been signed off yet, but are under review,” said Rowe. “A second storm in April caused those damages which are estimated to be about $106,000.”
The road department has already submitted a damage report totaling about $796,000 to the Federal Highway’s emergency relief program which includes both the February and April weather events, said Rowe.
He added the program will provide 100 percent funding if the projects are completed under a set time frame. A 10 percent funding match may be required if the damages require more time for repairs that need extra care.
“All these projects are going to get done next year or sometime in the late fall,” he said. “We have two culvert projects on the FEMA side that need permits which can take up to a year to get. We also need a permit on the Federal Highway side for repairs on Sandy Creek.”
In the next month or so, Rowe said he expects to hear from FEMA officials as well as from the Federal Highway agency on the amount of its final approved payout for all the damages caused by the storm.