The Kansas Division of Emergency Management will hold a preliminary damage assessment at 1 p.m. Tuesday in Room 101 at the Barton County Courthouse in Great Bend to gather information on damages sustained during the flooding and severe weather July 22-Aug. 16, said Amy Miller, Barton County emergency management director.
Information on damages, debris removal and emergency protective measures from Barton County and townships, cities, school districts and certain non-profits within Barton County will be collected by state officials. This meeting is for public officials and officers from these agencies and organizations.
Elected officials from these entities may be in attendance.
There is a lot of work involved, Miller said. These public entities must document their losses through photographs, reports of time involved, and reports of equipment and materials used.
“At the meeting, they will work through this list of damages,” Miller said. The goal is to see if the county reached the eligibility threshold to qualify for federal assistance.
But, Miller said, it is really more complicated than that.
Based on population, each county has to reach a damage dollar amount to qualify. Barton County’s total is $95,476.
If a county reaches its total, it can then apply to the State of Kansas. The state has to reach $3,908,772.
Each county’s total, regardless of whether or not they reach their individual target, helps make up the state goal, Miller said. So, the state can be eligible, but if a county doesn’t make its total, it is out of luck.
Next, if the state hits its goal it then applies to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for a Disaster Declaration. It still isn’t a done deal, Miller said.
State officials could hear back within 30 days. But, there has been flooding in other states, as well as massive wildfires, so there is competition for federal dollars.
Getting the declaration is beneficial, Miller said. The money will help with repairs so local governments won’t have to raise taxes to pay for them.
There is, however, a misconception, she said. The federal aid will see to it that damaged areas are restored to the way they were before the disaster, and not fund new improvements.
Looking at Barton County, Miller said it shouldn’t be a problem hitting the damage total. Early estimates have put it at around $200,000.
The process starting with Tuesday’s meeting is just for public entities, Miller said. It does not include individuals who had damage.