Adair County Engineer Nick Kauffman told the board of supervisors in last week’s Wednesday, Jan. 31 meeting that the county may be eligible for funds to reimburse a little of what was spent on snow storms that occurred earlier in January.
Adair/Guthrie County Emergency Management is working with officials from Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to see whether funds will be available or not.
EMA Deputy Director Jeremy Cooper had a conference call Monday. He learned during it that Adair County has qualified at all local and state levels for the assistance, but it now comes down to whether the federal level will approve it. If approved, any government entity in the county would be eligible to recuperate some of their snow removal costs.
A driving factor is that Adair County did have a record snowfall during these storms. Snow removal costs for the county exceeded $500,000.
Government entities applying for potential funds will only be able to turn in expenses from the worst consecutive 48-hour period of the storm.
“This is a little bit different than a normal disaster declration,” Cooper said. “Last time this happened was in 2001, so this isn’t something that happens very often. You have to break a record snowfall or come within 10% of it, and Adair County met that threshold.”
Cooper added that counties adjacent to Adair County would qualify for funding if they surpassed Adair County’s amount, even if they didn’t break their own record, but none did. Montgomery County is another area county that has qualified on local and state levels.
“It’s super complicated and this has been a learning curve for me,” Cooper said. “They probably see this more in the northeast region of the United States. We don’t meet these thresholds very often.”
On average, Adair County Secondary Roads employees each worked about 83 hours from Jan. 13 through Jan. 20. Total hours worked was about 2,100 hours with up to 25 employees.
Schildberg Construction helped the county widen a road in the northern part of the county for several days straight near one of their quarries. Numerous others are to thank, Kauffman said, for their help in taking care of roads.
Snow removal efforts don’t always produce results, Kauffman said. Mechanical failures, plugged fuel filters on equipment, flat tires, broken tire chains, sliding off the road, abandoned cars blocking the way, responding to emergencies and other dillemmas all make it a difficult hill to climb.
On a usual snowfall, motorgraders and dump trucks with plows are enough to handle snow removal, however large wheel loaders and other pieces of equipment were required for this snow storm because of how large drifts were.
Officials here in the county, and on a wider scale, noted that in general, people in rural areas should learn from these storms and have emergency kits ready if they were to get stranded for a few days because of impassable roads due to snow or floods.
“Our issue ends up being the wind. The biggest thing I can pass on to people is that we talk about emergency kits all the time, and that’s the biggest thing,” said EMA director Bob Kempf. “It doesn’t matter whether it’s flooding or a snow storm, having a few emergency supplies on hand makes a big difference. We were lucky with this one that we didn’t have any power issues. Our issue was it took a couple days to get people dug out.”
At least 2-3 cases of water and other items that don’t need cooked are all important in assembling an emergency preparedness kit.
“Food makes energy and energy is what keeps you warm,” Kempf said. “You want to have things in your kit you can use.”
Kempf also said it is important to restock your emergency preparedness kit periodically so the items it are usable when needed.