Janesville56.6°

Grant to aid flood recovery

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Kathleen Foody
June 10, 2009
— Each flood brings a new wave of work and cost for Carol Campbell.

The owner of the Riverfront Center, 15 W. Milwaukee St., has spent thousands of dollars on clean-up and renovation to her building on the Rock River, especially after last summer's record high water.


An announcement Tuesday from the governor's office could help Campbell and other Janesville business owners recover flooding losses. The city received a grant for $1.7 million, including $1 million to assist businesses impacted by last summer's flood.


The city also was given:


-- $194,940 to cover the city's match for a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant.


-- $411,746 for public facilities repair, including $82,038 to repair public utility systems, $323,171 for road washouts and sinkholes and $6,537 for repairs to the library and senior center.


-- $39,264 for housing rehabilitation.


-- $72,926 for administrative costs.


City officials did not anticipate an award of this size. They had been warned grants through the federal Community Development Block Grant Program usually do not exceed $500,000, Neighborhood Development Specialist Kelly Lee said.


The $1 million for businesses will require quick action to develop an application process, Lee said. The Department of Commerce has not yet given specific rules.


"It's not like we'll be out in the morning handing out checks," Lee said. "This is a process just like the flood has been, but at least now people can see light at the end of their tunnels."


Campbell said any financial aid from the city would help her cope with future floods.


"It just never ends because there's flooding already this year again. So I still spent money this year, all out of pocket," she said.


The city has a list of 39 businesses affected by 2008's record flood, but officials realize there probably are more, Lee said.


"Businesses have had such different expenses, some with building issues and others with a loss of income," she said. "We need to figure out what portion of (different expenses) we're going to fund."


Owners of the 12 homes on the floodplain in the Mole & Sadler's subdivision still are left waiting for a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Tuesday's grant will cover the city's 12.5 percent match, but the state's April application to the federal agency has not been answered.


"That is frustrating that it has taken so long, that we're almost hitting the year mark when those families had to vacate those properties," Lee said.


The city plans to buy the properties in the floodplain, demolish the structures and use the area as parkland if the FEMA grant comes through.


"I'm glad that we are finally able to get this money and get it disbursed," Assembly Speaker Mike Sheridan, D-Janesville, said Tuesday. "Those affected have been so patient through what was a difficult time last year with the flooding and with the difficult red tape that came after it."



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