Janesville8.4°

City still recovering from flood

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MARCIA A. NELESEN
March 5, 2009
— Janesville's bill for the 2008 flood is $1 million and counting.

And officials expect to spend an additional $2.1 million to finish repairs to flood-damaged properties.


Of the estimated $3.18 million total, about $2.12 million likely will be reimbursed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, leaving local taxpayers to pay about $1.06 million.


The city is appealing 11 projects for which FEMA is reimbursing less than what city staff believes it should pay. Rock County was declared a federal disaster area after the flood.


Through Dec. 31, the city spent $1.07 million, with $478,233 of that coming from local funding and $595,257 from FEMA.


The city spent:


-- $490,772 to clear debris and take protective measures such as closing roads, filling sand bags and monitoring the flood. For instance, silt dumped in parks by the river was removed. Streets were power washed. Overtime was paid. Of that, FEMA reimbursed $423,000. The local share of $67,179 was funded through the storm water utility.


-- $539,671 in infrastructure, building and park repairs, with a local share of $368,007. Some of the projects included repairing a collapsed storm sewer near City Ice under North Main Street, $118,000; a sinkhole on North Main Street near Pease Court, $43,000, and near the United Way building on North Main Street, $42,000; and repairing a storm sewer and street cleaning on St. Mary Court.


-- $43,047 for items FEMA did not reimburse the city for, such as electronic message signs and temporary lodging for flood victims.


Some projects remain, and the city is gearing up to complete those as early this spring as possible, said Jay Winzenz, director of administrative services.


The additional $2.1 million will include:


-- An estimated $194,490 for the Hazard Mitigation Program. The city would pay 12 1/2 percent for properties damaged in the floodplain. The state and federal government would pay the rest. The city doesn't know how many residents will take up the city on its offer to buy their properties. Janesville is waiting for the state and federal governments to complete the paperwork. Twelve homes were declared "substantially damaged," which means repairs are estimated at more than 50 percent of the home's value.


-- About $1.55 million for 14 infrastructure and park projects, such as the replacement of the stage and shoreline repairs in Traxler Park; repair of bike trails washed out near the Jackson Street Bridge and the Centerway Dam; repairs at the Rock River Parkway boat landing; and pond and pier repairs at Kiwanis Pond.


FEMA reimbursed 85 percent of the cost of debris clearance and protective measures, but the reimbursement rate for repairs to infrastructure and parks is less than 50 percent. The city estimates FEMA will pay $751,483 because FEMA determined that some of the damage was pre-existing, Winzenz said. The agency also came in with lower project cost estimates than city estimates.


Complicating matters, Winzenz said, is that the city dealt with several FEMA representatives who gave different opinions on what projects were eligible for FEMA reimbursement.


"There are projects that at one time FEMA indicated were eligible for reimbursement, and now they aren't, so we are appealing those determinations to the state of Wisconsin," Winzenz said.


The city will file its appeals through the Wisconsin Emergency Management Department.


FEMA, for instance, paid $3,500 of the $118,000 spent to repair the Main Street storm sewer by City Ice. It paid $7,000 of the $42,000 spent to repair the storm sewer near the United Way building on Main Street. The city believes the flood caused the storm sewer failures, Winzenz said.


FEMA also determined it will pay nothing for five projects. City staff has suggested those projects not be done for now.


They include repairs to the Arbor Ridge culvert, the Monterey Dam area, the Oakland Avenue storm sewer, the Traxler Park culvert head wall, and other repairs in Traxler Park along the east side of the lagoon. Estimated cost of those projects is $395,000.



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