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Reserve funds to pave way for road repair

Flood damages top $350,000 for county

By Jeri Borst

Flash flooding in late August and early September caused considerable damage to county roads, bridges and property.

County Judge Brandon Ellison said though some repairs have been made, a long list of work lays ahead.

“We had about $350,000 of verifiable damage,” Ellison said. “There was much more damage that is not quantifiable, such as gravel loss, partially plugged bridges and culverts, weakened road shoulders, etc.”

Ellison praised crews who have worked swiftly and diligently to tend to the jobs.

“The repairs are going well and we have worked some overtime. The larger damage sites are finished, all routes are open now and we are working on the numerous smaller sites,” he said.

“We had 79 sites that I consider significantly damaged. Of those, 30 sites were severely damaged. The basement of the courthouse was also flooded during this event. According to our long serving maintenance man, he had never experienced this occurrence in 20 plus years.”

With the added cost of materials, overtime and other expenses, Ellison said the flooding damages are costly.

“Of course the budget is impacted in these situations, however I have learned to expect catastrophes. So, I plan ahead to keep some funds in reserve for disasters,” he said.

State and federal money is sometimes available during natural disasters. Gov. Asa Hutchinson declared a state of emergency when Hurricane Laura reached Arkansas.

“Since this was a separate incident from Laura, we will not be eligible for FEMA help. It just did not affect that many counties,” Ellison said. “I did declare Polk County a flood disaster and requested state assistance.”

If approved, the state would reimburse 35% of eligible work.

“The state is pretty restrictive on what work they deem eligible. If approved, I don’t expect to receive more than $50,000. I have met with our representative from ADEM (Arkansas Department of Emergency Management) and conducted field work and compiled documentation to make our case.”

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