FEMA delays could cost Buckland thousands for Irene damage

BUCKLAND — Delays by the Federal Emergency Management Agency in processing Tropical Storm Irene paperwork could cost Buckland up to $520,000 in state reimbursement money for flood damage repairs to town roadways.

According to a letter from Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency Director Kurt N. Schwartz, federal project worksheets for roughly $2 million worth of flood repairs approved by FEMA were not submitted to the state in time for a 25 percent reimbursement in 2013. Project worksheets are what document the scope of work and cost estimate for a project.

A 75 percent share of the Tropical Storm Irene damage was paid for by the federal government through a Presidential Disaster Declaration for the 2011 storm. In August 2013, a supplemental state budget appropriation was made, so the state Administration and Finance Office could provide a 25 percent match for FEMA-approved flood damage repairs. But a dozen project worksheets for Buckland repairs — including the $1 million Clesson Brook project — were not processed and submitted to the state by FEMA until 2014.

Town Administrator Andrea Llamas said she asked the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency for a letter to document what had happened with Buckland’s reimbursement, and she is working with local legislators to see if they can secure supplemental funds to reimburse the town for at least some of the money borrowed to make needed repairs.

“Our legislators are going to have to get us something on the state level,” said Llamas. “We’re still carrying the debt.”

At annual town meeting this spring, voters approved paying off $135,000 of the town’s remaining debt for expenses related to Tropical Storm Irene. Llamas said the town has about five years left to pay off the remaining loan.

Selectman Kevin Fox said FEMA “has proved to be an incompetent agency.”

“Let’s hope to God we never have another disaster like that again,” he said.

Author: Going Green

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