TYLERTOWN — Walthall County has a place to dispose of debris from the April 12 Easter storm, but doesn’t know yet how much they might have to pay to get rid of it.
County engineer Jeff Dungan told supervisors Wednesday that their debris removal contractor, Land Company Development of Magnolia, had identified a site suitable for the burning of debris, but the state Department of Environmental Quality wants the county to apply for a permit for the site.
While those preparations are ongoing, the board still doesn’t know how much of the cleanup bill they may have to foot.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency approved individual assistance for affected property owners in Walthall County earlier this month, about a month after the storm blew through, and some assistance is available for some property and business owners through the Small Business Administration.
But the county has yet to be approved for public assistance under the declaration, That would mean FEMA would pay for 75% of the cleanup cost to the county, and the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency would pick up another 12.5%.
Royce McKee, the county’s emergency management director, said the declaration for the April 12 storm is the first time ever that the county received approval for individual assistance. Almost 100 county residents have registered for the FEMA aid.
McKee said he believed the county should qualify for public assistance, as well, based on Dungan’s estimate of close to $1 million in property damage, and Dungan said he was surprised the county had not been declared eligible yet.
“I thought that would have happened about two weeks ago,” Dungan said.
McKee said the county could count time, labor and equipment as in-kind matches to the federal and state money if the county eventually gets the public assistance,
He said several of the county’s fire departments, as well as a skidder operator and a landowner with a bulldozer, had performed some cleanup operations that might be able to be counted in the county’s match.
Dungan threw some cold water on that idea, however.
While technically allowed, “I’ve never seen in-kind work accepted” for the match, Dungan said. “It can be difficult to get FEMA to go along with that.”
While the reimbursement possibility remains in doubt, Dungan said the estimated budget for the cleanup is about $455,000, and he said officials of Land told him they felt the actual cost of the cleanup should be less.