At last, a beginning to an end
NYE — Last Thursday was a long time coming, both for county officials as well as the folks living at the southern end of Stillwater River Road.
At the site of the 2015 rockslide, state Disaster and Emergency Services (DES) Mitigation Officer Nadene Wadsworth ceremoniously presented the county with the FEMA Pre-Disaster Mitigation (PDM) grant to fund the rockslide’s cleanup.
In attendance were District Five DES Representative Charlie Hanson, Commissioners Mark Crago and Maureen Davey, former commissioner Jerry Dell, Stillwater’s DES Coordinator Carol Arkell, County Attorney Nancy Rohde, and a half-dozen civilians, many of whom were impacted by the rockslide.
Both Wadsworth and Hanson praised the hard work put in by Arkell and the commissioners to complete the grant process.
Stillwater’s application included drone footage of the rockslide, as well as extensive environmental information. This “front loading” completed by Arkell prior to the application’s submittal made the grant process faster and easier, said Wadsworth.
After the county’s grant application was denied for the 2015 cycle, it would have been easy to give up on the search for additional funding for the project, Hanson explained. Instead, the county tried again, with Arkell ensuring the application was as complete as possible. Such perseverance should be commended, he noted.
“It’s a really, really big deal for a rural county like Stillwater to get a grant award like this,” Hanson said.
Stillwater’s grant is the first that has been awarded in the state for the 2016 cycle, according to Wadsworth.
The goal of a PDM grant, according to the FEMA website, is to “reduce overall risk to the population and structures from future hazard events, while also reducing reliance on federal funding in future disasters.”
The Stillwater River Road rockslide project will cost a total of $2.48 million. The FEMA grant funds $1.86 million of the total, leaving the county’s share at $620,000.
According to Arkell, some aspects of the project to be funded by the grant are a temporary rock berm and fence along the river to keep debris out of the water during the project, manual removal of loose rock, installation of the rock dowels, and rock fall signs.
During the ceremony, Arkell said the county is “very fortunate to have received this funding.”
Wadsworth further explained that, after this year, there is a good chance that there will no longer be PDM grants available to states due to decisions in Washington, DC.
Without the grants, a disaster would most likely need to be declared an emergency by the president to receive mitigation funds, according to Wadsworth.
At Tuesday’s agenda meeting, Crago announced the rockslide project schedule. HI-TECH Rockfall Construction, out of Oregon, will begin mobilization on Monday, July 24. Cleanup and demobilization will begin Friday, August 18.
Then, after over two years of waiting, the residents of the area will have their road back.