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Weber County officials receive mixed signals on flooding help, working with state to clarify

By Rob Nielsen - | Dec 28, 2023

Rob Nielsen, Standard-Examiner

Floodwaters encroach on a picnic shelter along the Ogden River on May 4, 2023.

Weber County officials are in a bit of a holding pattern on reimbursement for costs caused by this year’s flooding.

On Tuesday, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, announced the recipients of disaster assistance for costs incurred during this spring’s flooding.

Eli Johnson, Weber County Emergency Management coordinator, told the Standard-Examiner early Tuesday afternoon that Weber County was receiving paperwork necessary to get those funds.

“Saturday, President Biden signed the Stafford Act declaration for the flooding in Utah this last year and that did include Weber County and a number of municipalities here within the county,” he said. “The paperwork is just kind of rolling in at this point and we’re going through declaration details and we’ll start going down that process with FEMA as far as validating and verifying our damages for both the state and FEMA and going through the process where values are assigned to those damages and working through that entire Stafford Act process.”

However, despite receiving paperwork from FEMA for the next steps in the process of collecting funds, Weber County officials quickly noticed something missing from FEMA’s press release on the disaster declaration.

“Public Assistance federal funding is available to state, tribal and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by flooding in Iron, Morgan, Sanpete, Utah and Wasatch counties,” read FEMA’s press release.

Notably missing: Weber County.

“We’re working with the state to figure out if it was a clerical omission or just what exactly is going on,” Johnson said in a followup interview Tuesday.

Johnson said Wednesday that the search for clarity continues.

“The dates of the declaration itself, the majority of our flooding issues occurred prior to the initial date,” he said. “We’re wondering if some of those expenses we incurred weren’t allowed as part of that declaration because it doesn’t fall within the date range that FEMA decided to declare that disaster for, or if it was just an omission.”

According to the FEMA press release, May 1-27 are the main dates highlighted in the declaration.

Johnson said officials are looking into options if the declaration ultimately doesn’t cover the county’s flooding expenses.

“Where we’re at is waiting to find out if it was an omission or if it wasn’t allowed because it didn’t fall within the date range that FEMA specified,” he said. “If it did not, we’re going through our options as far as appealing that declaration.”

He said the time of year is making an answer slower to come by.

“We’re hoping (to hear back) by the end of business on Friday,” he said. “With the holidays, there’s not a lot of staff down at the state. A lot of folks are out of town for the holidays, so we’ve just been working with our state liaison and she’s been plugging away trying to track down the information.”

Johnson said it’s estimated the county incurred about $400,000-$500,000 in damages from the 2023 flood. Expenses include materials, staff hours, bank erosion and other damages.


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