Hannibal News

City still tabulating its flood prevention costs

By Danny Henley
Special to The Herald-Whig
Posted: Aug. 19, 2019 12:01 am

HANNIBAL, Mo. -- As the Mississippi River continues to drop, still rising are the costs associated with this spring's flood prevention efforts in Hannibal.

Hannibal Finance Director Karen Burditt said earlier this week that $36,614 was spent by the city for materials alone. That total is expected to rise once the cost of labor is tabulated.

The Hannibal Board of Public Works' flood fighting costs were just over $130,000, at last report. According to HBPW General Manager Heath Hall that figure does not include anything other than safety fencing and barricades on North Street, where significant damage occurred when a storm sewer failed during a heavy rain earlier this summer.

"We hope to begin assessing the damage to the North Street storm sewer in the next couple of weeks as the river continues to recede," Hall said.

The HBPW's current cost estimate could "double or triple" once the North Street repair figure is added in, according to Hall.

Only costs incurred after April 29 can be counted by the city, Burditt said.

Some cost relief is headed Hannibal's way, thanks to the expansion in late July of President Donald Trump's previous disaster declaration to include Marion County.

Inclusion in the declaration makes the county eligible for public assistance, which will help local governments and nonprofits with the cost of emergency work in the repair or replacement of disaster-damaged facilities, roads, bridges and other public infrastructure.

News of the disaster declaration's expansion was applauded at both Hannibal City Hall and the HBPW's offices.

"It was a significant announcement," said the city's Director of Central Services Andy Dorian. "We were on pins and needles waiting to hear. That funding, the reimbursement, is a huge deal for us."

"It was great news," Hall said. "It's just the break we need to get some of the necessary storm water repairs funded and to hopefully recover some pretty significant flood prevention costs."

According to Dorian, all the labor expenses incurred in an effort to keep the river out of the downtown area is still being compiled.

"The goal is over the next couple of weeks to put all those numbers together," he said. "We have done this many times so it's nothing new to us. It is a lengthy process to do all that work."

Once the HBPW and the various city departments have completed their respective flood cost tabulations they will be submitted to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

"We will combine them into one big number because we are one city entity," Dorian said.

Dorian anticipates that the HBPW's North Street repair cost will be the single largest item submitted by the city.

"That is kind of a game changer," he said. "Nobody has that sort of money just sitting around."

Working with the federal government for reimbursement money can present some challenges.

"Every year is different with FEMA on how things are reported," Dorian said.

The reimbursement process is not a rapid one, according to Dorian.

"It could be years before we get final checks," he said. "Hopefully it is sooner than that, but we are expecting it to be quite a long process."

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