The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

October 30, 2013

Storm cleanup nears $1 million mark in Albemarle

By Shannon Beamon, Staff Writer
CNHI News Service

Wednesday, October 30, 2013 — After four months of cleanup and calculating, the city of Albemarle finalized the expenses incurred by June’s microburst storm and submitted its application for compensation through state disaster funds.

The city is eligible for compensation from the state in three categories: debris removal, emergency protective measures and repairs to roads and bridges.

Overall these expenses total $982,369.95.

Debris removal made up $924,603.11 of the total, emergency protective services made up $44,099.23 and repairs to roads and bridges made up $13,657.61.

In order to qualify for state disaster funds, these costs had to exceed 1 percent of  the city’s net annual operating budget, which is $30,646,900.

Costs well exceeded the 1 percent mark, $306,469.

Once the application for  disaster declaration and assistance is processed, the state should reimburse the city for 75 percent of these costs, a total of $736,769.96. The city will be responsible for the remaining $245,589.99.

However, while these are the expenses eligible for state disaster compensation, they are not the only expenses the city incurred.

“The one thing we won’t get reimbursement for is the restoration of the electric system,” City Manager Raymond Allen said at the city council last week.

Costs to repair the electrical distribution system totaled nearly $1.3 million.

State Public Assistance notes in its narrative of the situation that, “While the FEMA Category-F: Utilities (permanent work) is ineligible for reimbursement under North Carolina law ... the damages and expenses documented pose an additional (and sizable) financial hardship on the city.”

It was determined earlier in the year that Albemarle and the adjacent areas impacted by the microburst event did not qualify for federal disaster funds either.

“Fortunately we have significant reserves in our electric fund,” Allen said.

“All of those bills have been paid and we continue to do business as usual.”

Councilman Jack Neel asked if there was any kind of insurance the city could get to help pay for such disasters in the future.

“We took care of this one this time, but something could come along that costs five or 10 million dollars and that would really knock us,” Neel said.

The city also continues to try to recoup some of its losses through the sale of mulch generated from storm debris.

Landfill Superintendent Darren Preslar has updated the city administration on the sale, which started a couple of weeks ago.

As of Oct. 11, the landfill had sold about 2,000 pounds of mulch.

Preslar said that while they haven’t broken even for the cost of shredding the material yet. They hope to soon with the help of additional advertising.

“I think more people just need to hear about it,” he said.

To submit story ideas, contact Shannon Beamon at (704) 982-2121 ext. 24 or at shannon@stanly