CLEARFIELD – Municipalities affected by the torrential flooding that occurred at the end of June in northwestern Clearfield County are still crossing their fingers for federal assistance, Joe Bigar, director of the Clearfield County Emergency Management Agency, reported at Tuesday’s commissioner’s meeting.
Last month, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) rejected its application for federal funding. It was rejected on the basis that it was for the duration of the flood event from June 27 through July 10, said Bigar.
He said since then, Clearfield County has compiled additional damages that weren’t included in the original federal funding application. In addition, he said the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) has appealed FEMA’s decision to reject its application for federal funding.
Based upon current figures, he said they should meet the thresholds required to get federal funding for the flood damages from June 27-30. The FEMA, he said, has received PEMA’s appeal, as well as the reports detailing the county’s new damages.
If approved, Bigar said the affected municipalities should get reimbursed roughly 70 percent of what they have expended on repairs to public roadways, bridges, waterways, etc. Also, if approved, Bigar said there would be a workshop organized to further assist municipalities.
Commissioner Joan Robinson-McMillen, chair, thanked Bigar and his staff for assisting the municipalities in dealing with the flood damage.
Earlier in the meeting, the commissioners approved the request from Scott Mignot, EMA deputy director, to apply for a $10,000 Citizen Corps/Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Grant through PEMA. If approved, the grant, he said, would be used to initialize a CERT pilot program in Coalport Borough with the intent of eventually getting the entire county covered under the program.
According to Mignot, CERT organizes community volunteers who are trained with basic life-saving skills necessary to assist during disasters. These volunteers, he said, fill the void between the time the disaster occurs and the arrival of first responders to the scene. When major disasters strike he said first responders are often delayed and or overwhelmed.
CERT training, he said, educates community volunteers to help themselves and their neighbors in the event of a disaster. He said CERT was born out of the need for community disaster volunteers after earthquakes in California. However, he said CERT training is usually specific to common disasters for an area, and around here, it would include mostly flooding and high winds.
Mignot said Community Watch and other similar programs fall under the CERT Grant program.
The commissioners also approved a request from Bigar for Erie County to be added onto the Northern Tier Regional Telecommunications Project. The project, he said, is one of the first of its kind in the country, as seven counties have linked together. If any 9-1-1 Center goes out within the Northern Tier Region, another will pick up, Bigar said.
The Telecommunications Project, he said, has been fully funded by PEMA through its Wireless Project. He said if approved by all of the counties in the Northern Tier Region, Erie County plans to pay $193,000 to buy into the original project. This, he said, will give the county additional funds for maintenance and future upgrades, as well as reduce its percentage of the monthly fiber bill.
Bigar said he hopes other counties will join their Telecommunications Project to create additional savings for Clearfield County and the others already a part of the Northern Tier Region.