By Jeff Gallatin
City officials think there’s a good possibility they will receive federal assistance in picking up the financial cost of dealing with Superstorm Sandy.
North Olmsted safety service Director Scott Thomas said last week that Federal Emergency Management Agency officials will be in North Olmsted checking how the city dealt with Sandy.
“It will be a second fact check for them, which is often the prelude to FEMA offering some kind of financial assistance when there have been problems which were of the magnitude Sandy presented,” Thomas said.
He said President Barak Obama and other federal officials deciding to offer assistance to states such as Ohio, which were hammered by Sandy, was the key factor in FEMA being able to offer the assistance. Like other Westshore cities, North Olmsted had thousands of residents, businesses and other structures that lost power, as well as many downed trees and power lines and other problems as a result of Sandy.
Currently, North Olmsted officials estimate the city incurred about $200,000 in costs as a result of Sandy. Thomas said much of that stemmed from overtime for employees, brush and debris pickup, and equipment costs such as the use of generators to keep city facilities like the safety service department functioning.
“It’s a pretty wide-ranging set of costs, but we’re documenting everything for FEMA so they can review it and see how we dealt with the storm,” Thomas said. “I’ll repeat that our employees did an outstanding job in dealing with the effects of the storm and handling the needs of our residents, while the storm was going on and afterwards.”
Thomas cited as one example the city incurring about $74,000 in brush pickup costs as a result of Sandy.
“That’s not a small expense, particularly when you’re looking at additional expenses in several areas like overtime, equipment use and others that come when you have a major event like Sandy,” Thomas said.
He said the maximum the city could receive would be about 87.5 percent of the costs, or in the range of $150,000 or slightly more, with FEMA offering up to 75 percent and the state of Ohio an additional 12.5 percent.
Thomas said if the city is awarded assistance, it would arrive by late spring.
City Council Finance Committee Chairman Paul Barker said Thomas and safety/service department staff deserve credit for not only their work during the storm but in pursuing additional help like the FEMA funds.
“I’m glad there’s assistance like that which apparently will be available since Ohio got hit hard like other areas around the nation,” he said.