Cities still recovering from flood

Published 4:00 am Wednesday, December 22, 2010

With the December 2009 flood becoming a fading memory for many residents and city officials are still in the midst of repairs, claims and recovery.
East Brewton Mayor Terry Clark said some repairs have already been made while others will be seeing a move in the near future.
“We have already done some repair work in the City that was needed after the flood,” Clark said. “We have made some repairs to the drainage ditch situated behind Superfoods. We still need to do some work on our sewer system and we hope to get that project started soon.”
Steve Yuhasz, community development director for the City of Brewton, said most of the damaged caused by the flood has been repaired with one major project still on hold.
“We have completed repairs on just about all of the damage caused by  the flood in the city,” Yuhasz said. “We have some repairs left to be made pertains to sewer lines and sewer ponds for the city.”
Yuhasz said the estimated cost of repairs for damages from the flood were just under a half million dollars. Funds to cover the cost of repairs are expected after the city filed a claim with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
“The estimated cost for repairs of damages came to $464,487,” Yuhasz said. “We have received a portion of that amount from FEMA. We have received about $250,000 so far and we hope to get the rest from them in the near future.”
In East Brewton, a price tag of a half million dollars was hung on the repairs needed following the flood. Unlike Escambia County and the City of Brewton, Clark said East Brewton has received all funds requested from FEMA.
“We had estimates that the damage would cost about $500,000 to repair here,” Clark said. “We made those claims to FEMA and we have already received the requested funds to make those repairs.”
Clark said work remaining in East Brewton includes cleaning sewer lines throughout the city.
“We expect to do some cleaning of the sewer system with the funds from FEMA,” Clark said. “There was sand and dirt washed into the lines by the flood waters and that needs to be cleaned out. FEMA estimated $400,000 would be needed to complete that work. We’ve gotten that and we are ready to start that cleaning job.”
Clark said FEMA issued a $100,000 check to the City for repairs to the drainage ditch situated between Snowden and Pine Streets just behind Magnolia Plaza.
Yuhasz said the majority of funds already received from FEMA took care of repairs and other costs associated with the devastation left by the rapid flooding the city experienced last year.
“We have certainly put the money we have already received to good use,” Yuhasz said. “Since we were declared a State of Emergency area by the president we were able to use the funds to pay for overtime work done by our personnel.”
With a small retail community in East Brewton, tax revenue saw a dramatic dip during December last year as a result of the flooding. Clark said the revenue hit was tough on the city as well as the retailers.
“Superfoods is our biggest tax revenue generating business in East Brewton,” Clark said. “With their business being down for a week to 10 days last year, it was a big hit for them and for us. We lost between $4,000 and $5,000 in tax revenues while they were closed. Fred’s did pick up some of the slack in that loss since they sell bread, milk and eggs there. But, that loss was a tough hit for the City of East Brewton. We’ve recovered and Superfoods is going as strong or stronger than ever.”
Areas that have been repaired with funds received in Brewton from FEMA include O’Bannon Park, Persimmon, Young, Ashley and High streets.
“We had a sewer blow-out on Persimmon Street that had to be repaired as quickly as possible,” Yuhasz said. “We had to do emergency work on the sewer damns as well.”
Yuhasz said the majority of work left to be done is centered around sewer damns operated by the city.
“We have work that still needs to be done on our sewer damns,” Yuhasz said.
“Most of the work that remains to be done has to do with cleaning some of the sewer lines that had sand or dirt flooded into them by the rising water.”
Yuhasz said some work will be done to prevent disaster in the event of a flood in the future.
“When the funding is here we hope to do some hazard mitigation work on the sewer ponds,” Yuhasz said. “We hope to be able to raise the height of the sewer damns so future flood waters would not do any damage.”
Clark said similar work will be done in East Brewton to help prevent a disaster should another flood creep into the city.
“We have recently received a $400,000 grant from the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs,” Clark said. “That grant money will be used to rework our pumping station for the city. Hopefully, that will help us out if we have flooding in the city in the future.”

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