Davis tallies cleanup costs

Tuesday , March 18, 2014 - 10:30 AM

Bryon Saxton

FARMINGTON -- Davis County entities must collectively have suffered $3.6 million damage from the Dec. 1 windstorm if they are to receive assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

That process began Tuesday.

FEMA representatives held a short meeting with Davis officials at the Memorial Courthouse in Farmington, to begin what is expected to be a weeklong preliminary assessment of the storm damage to public properties.

On Dec. 1, hurricane-force winds ripped through Top of Utah, leveling a few small buildings, damaging signs and uprooting trees -- some of which fell on power lines and left cities without power for an extended period.

"We're just compiling data, that's what we are doing," said David Christenson, FEMA public assistance specialist.

Compiling the monetary value of damage to public properties is one of the first steps in the process, Christenson said.

The data FEMA representatives collect from Davis School District, Davis cities and the Bountiful and Kaysville publicly owned power companies will be forwarded to the state to determine whether the amount of damage -- based on a formula of county population and size -- warrants a state emergency declaration.

The damage assessment is expected to take three days to a week to complete.

Part of the difficulty in assessing damage is that much of the storm debris has been cleaned up through volunteer efforts, Davis County Commissioner John Petroff Jr. said.

That puts the county in a Catch-22 position with FEMA, Petroff said.

"They'll be looking for damage and not be able to find it due to the volunteer efforts. If we qualify, we qualify. If we don't, we don't," Petroff said.

Bountiful city officials expressed similar concerns.

"I am assuming all the debris is gone," Christenson said.

"Hopefully you have documentation of the quantity of debris that you had to remove," he told those gathered at the meeting.

Entities can provide FEMA representatives with an idea of the quantity of debris that had to be removed by providing time sheets showing any overtime work by city staff; the landfill tipping fees or weighing logs documenting the disposal of the debris, and any documentation, including gas purchase receipts, showing city equipment used in the cleanup.

"No volunteer work for this (preliminary damage assessment) is eligible," Christenson said.

Any public properties covered by insurance are also not eligible for FEMA funds, Christenson said.

But one county official remains optimistic Davis entities collectively will meet the threshold to receive assistance.

Davis County Sheriff's Office Emergency Manager Ellis Bruch said he anticipates there being a total of about $6 million in storm damage to public properties.

"We're well over the mark that we need to be at," he said.

Bountiful officials estimate their city is looking at $1.5 million in wind damage, primarily to the city-owned power plant.

Kaysville Mayor Steve Hiatt said city properties had sustained about $500,000 damage.

Centerville officials initially reported about $8 million damage, but how much of that damage was to public property has not been determined.

Davis County reported about $700,000 damage to county properties.

Layton, which did not have a representative at Tuesday's meeting, earlier reported having less than $100,000 damage to its public properties.

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