Disaster aid helps Kansas Counties rebuild after spring storms

TOPEKA (KSNT) — Counties all over Kansas spent much of Tuesday trying to decide where to spend federal disaster assistance, money approved Monday by President Obama.

42 of those counties qualified for the help because of this spring’s severe weather.

“Flooding, tornadoes, hail, straight-line winds,” said Steve Harsha, Public Assistance Officer for the Kansas Department of Emergency Management.

Nothing Kansas hasn’t seen before, but enough to leave an expensive trail of damage in its path.

“The disaster damages were such a cost that our agency was able to partner with FEMA,” said Harsha.

In Lyon County, the Director of Emergency Management tells KSNT News that 20-30 roads were flooded with 3 to 7 inches of rain during that time, which washed away most of the gravel.

“This type of weather event, a lot of the roads throughout the state have the aggregate, the gravel and the road base basically destroyed,” said Harsha.

Now FEMA will reimburse local governments for up to 75 percent of the costs associated with those storms, including everything from putting up roadblocks and removing debris to repairing roads.

The state will pay an additional 10 percent of those costs, leaving most counties or cities with just 15 percent of the bill.

“In this age of fiscal issues with counties, it’s huge to help supplement their rebuilding their infrastructure, especially when their operational budgets are often times depleted, so it’s a big help,” said Harsha.

However, the work has to be completed before they receive a dime from anyone.

Lyon County tells us its focus is repairing roads and a few culverts.

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