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2019 spring storms costly
County waiting for federal disaster dollars
storm damage
Shown is an aerial view of Barton County flooding last spring. The storms were costly and the county is still awaiting federal disaster funds.

During 2019, Barton County was included in a federal disaster declaration due to severe storms, straight-line winds, tornadoes and flooding. That violent spring and summer weather was costly, County Administrator Phil Hathcock told county commissioners Monday morning.

“As you know, we had a lot of storm damage,” he said, presenting a report from County Works Director Darren Williams.

Beginning on April 28 and continuing through July 12, 2019, severe storms swept through Kansas causing damage with straight-line winds and flooding in 70 counties in Kansas. Although individuals were not eligible to receive assistance through the declaration, an early estimate of $861,000 in public assistance dollars was made available to state and eligible local government and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities (including roads and bridges) damaged.

Locally, the expenses added up, Williams' update noted:

• Storm clean up after three floods took 4,415 hours costing $17,560.51 and using $117,564.61 of materials (culverts, shot rock asphalt and dirt).

• His department is currently work three separate Federal Emergency Management Agency claims for reimbursement.

• Cemetery work to maintain Golden Belt and Hillcrest memorial parks took 401 hours at a cost of $11,143.07. Trees were severely damaged by windstorm.

• Department answered 20 call outs after hours costing $3,820.40. Stop signs, trees down and accidents.

Commissioner Jennifer Schartz asked about federal disaster reimbursement money from FEMA. The answer is no one knows and it could take a while.

“Just this year, we received money for two years ago,” Hathcock said, noting Emergency Risk Manager Amy Miller is working on the application.

But, due to the large numbers of counties involved in the disaster declaration, the Kansas Division of Emergency Management is still working with public assistance applicants to review damages and complete the paperwork required to receive federal disaster dollars, Miller said in a report to the commission.