Starke County Emergency Management Agency Director J. Nier and EMS Director Travis Clary attended a briefing with FEMA representatives on Thursday in order to learn more about the public financial assistance that is available to the county to help with flood relief.
EMA Director Nier explained that in order to be eligible for public assistance, the county had to reach about $85,000 spent dealing with flood recovery. Nier said that number was not only reached, but it was surpassed, with close to $2 million spent during the immediate response.
The public assistance provided deals specifically with infrastructure concerns and the federal funds will be provided on a reimbursement basis. The funding is offered to county departments including the Surveyor’s Office, the Highway Department, Debris Management, EMS, various fire departments and multiple other agencies who were involved in the flood response.
The county’s department heads will utilize a reporting portal through FEMA where they will upload their invoices directly. Director Nier said that during this process, it is imperative that department heads take detailed records of everything that a repair entails including equipment, materials, man hours and anything else that has a cost associated with it.
A FEMA representative will be in the county, working with department heads to show them how to utilize the portal.
Nier noted that once the representative is no longer working with the departments on an individual basis, individuals will still be able to reach them over the phone if any questions or concerns arise.
Additionally, Director Nier shared that she has submitted documentation to help bring individual assistance into the county as well.
She said FEMA experienced some technical difficulties with their reporting app that led to damage in multiple counties going unrecorded even though it was submitted. Nier said fortunately she had pictures and physical copies of her reports that she has since turned in for consideration.
An appeal will be submitted to FEMA, asking officials to reconsider providing individual assistance to those areas. While public assistance focuses on infrastructure, individual assistance would help impacted residents on a more personal basis.