Janesville63°

City's flood bill to top $600,000

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JAMES P. LEUTE
September 23, 2008
— Preliminary estimates indicate the city of Janesville will be on the hook for more than $600,000 as its share of costs tied to the devastating Rock River flooding in June and July.

That's about 14 percent of the $4.2 million that the city's Department of Public Works thinks is eligible for Federal Emergency Management Agency funding through federal, state and local governments.


Jack Messer, the city's director of public works, told council members Monday that the city faces an Oct. 6 deadline for submitting its flood-related projects to FEMA.


One week later, Messer said he will appear before the council with a plan for the city to pay its tab, which already includes $509,000 spent under an emergency authorization from the city manager and council.


"We believe our estimates are high, but that's what we attempted to do," Messer said.


The city has collected reams of data to chronicle what will be "the flood of record" for generations to come, he said.


FEMA classifies costs and repairs in seven categories, including debris clearance, protective measures, road systems, water control facilities, public buildings and equipment, public utility systems and everything else.


The city has estimated those costs at $2.3 million, and its share is expected to be about $265,000. The city also is expected to be responsible for another $342,500 for projects that improve rather than just repair infrastructure, cover a home buy-out program or pay for repairs not covered by any other agency.


Messer's estimates do not include the future of the Monterey Dam, an aging structure that does little if anything to provide flood control, he said.


"It's basically an old structure that at one time provided power to a mill," he said.


The state Department of Natural Resources would like to see the dam removed, he said.


Removing the dam could cost the city $300,000, he said. Fixing it up would cost as much as $1.3 million.


"That's a community decision, and we need to have a discussion on it," he said, adding that the future of the city's river walls—which are nearly 90 years old but were unscathed by this summer's flooding—need to be included, as well.



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