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The Kansan - Newton, KS
  • Storm damage has hefty price tag  

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  • Weeks of severe storms, heavy rains and high winds have taken their toll on Harvey County this summer, resulting in hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of damage.
    So far, about $800,000 in damage has been calculated, but Harvey County Emergency Management coordinator Lon Buller thinks that number could rise even higher.
    "It's hard for some of these folks to give figures because they don't know what their road is like because water is still on it," Buller said. "... I don't think there's any township that escaped any damages."
    Harvey County is applying for a federal disaster declaration, which would allow the county to receive reimbursement for damages. Gov. Sam Brownback already has issued a state disaster declaration that includes Harvey County. According to the state declaration, the period for the disaster started July 22, but an end date hasn't been specified yet.
    The threshold the county has to meet for a federal disaster declaration is about $119,660 worth of damages. This figure is based on 2010 census numbers, with $3.45 allotted per person.
    The level of damage varies across the county, Buller reported. The storms washed out roads and toppled trees, in some areas creating tornado-like damage.
    If approved, the county would receive what Buller calls "public assistance" — reimbursement for government entities or public non-profits. Unfortunately, this won't include individual assistance for events like flooded basements in private homes. Buller said it would take a massive event, on the level of a Joplin, Mo., or Greensburg tornado, in order for individual assistance to kick in.
    "We can't help everybody, it just can't be done," Buller said. "They want to get you a little back on your feet, that's what it amounts to."
    What you can do
    While the county's storm damage likely won't qualify for individual assistance, Buller said this is a good reminder to look over your insurance and verify what it covers. How much flooding coverage do you want, or are you planning to pay out of pocket for any expenses?
    "Am I willing to take that loss?" Buller said. "How high a deductible do I have?"
    Gina Bell, the county's zoning and environmental director and floodplain manager, also advises people to consider testing their private water wells for contaminants if there has been flooding in their area.
    For more information, call 284-6940 or stop by the county's Planning/Zoning Office. Testing kits are available.
     
     
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