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Walworth County gets FEMA cash

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Kevin Hoffman
August 31, 2011
— Walworth County communities were awarded more than $400,000 in reimbursement for expenses related to February's blizzard that left parts of the state under two feet of snow.

County Emergency Management Director John Ennis said all but a few communities already received checks from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Several school districts, emergency response units and the county highway department joined 24 communities, receiving a total of $505,985 from the federal government.


Wisconsin was hammered by three days of snowfall beginning Jan. 31 and ending with a Groundhog Day blizzard that shut down roads and state departments. The National Weather Service reported as much as 26 inches of snow fell over 72 hours in the southeastern part of the state.


President Barack Obama in April declared Walworth County and nine others disaster areas, qualifying them for relief.


Pell Lake received 26 inches of snow, setting a local record and qualifying the county for federal disaster assistance. Ennis said, in all, the county was reimbursed about 85 percent of the amount for which it was eligible.


Lake Geneva received $54,041, and its schools received an additional $15,359. The county highway department collected $39,863, and the sheriff's office received $10,930.


Town of Bloomfield Chairman Ken Monroe said emergency officials there used 36 tons of salt in addition to paying for staff and equipment to clear roads. That still wasn't enough to keep mountains of snow from blocking streets.


The southeastern portion of Walworth County was hit the hardest. Communities such as Whitewater to the north received about a foot of snow.


"I wouldn't say it was one of the most intense storms," said Whitewater Public Works Director Dean Fischer, adding the 1978 blizzard hit the area much harder. "We didn't have some of the difficulties that some of the other areas had because we didn't have the snow levels."


Whitewater still spent thousands because of the storm. FEMA reimbursed the city $43,303.


Federal reimbursement is for supplies, equipment and overtime directly related to the event. FEMA began reviewing storm costs in March and has since met with officials in each affected community to determine how much assistance each would receive.


Walworth County initially was approved for reimbursement for costs involving 48 hours, but that was expanded to 72 hours after it was determined snowfall broke the previous record by more than 50 percent.


Dane County earlier this month received more than $1.4 million in federal aid.



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