FEMA Surveys Flood Damage in Benton County

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Federal officials were taken on a two-day tour (Aug. 19-20) of the flood damage in Benton County, as they assess the damage for federal aid possibilities. The recent floods caused an estimated $5 million in damage to roads and bridges.

"I'm just hoping this happens for the county because you all have been beat to death, so I like to see some help here," said Tim Gehring, coordinator for the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management.

The county is hoping to get the millions of dollars they need to repair damages from the Aug. 8 floods in the county that dropped several inches of rain. If it qualifies for a federal disaster declaration, the county will get a 75 percent reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the state will give them a 12.5 percent reimbursement, in addition to the federal funds.

Shay Phillips, FEMA's public assistance coordinator, took pictures of the damage.

"We inspect those damages. We look at these types of repairs and the cost associated with those," Phillips said.

One of the sites they checked out was the Spanker Road Bridge, which had been closed for several days after the flood.

"You have some road surface damage, some railing damage, erosion in the embankment and that's what we are discussing," Phillips said.

FEMA will compile and review its notes before continuing the approval process.

State emergency officials will be taking FEMA to other counties that also received flood damage. However, Gehring said Benton County alone meets the $4 million threshold the state needs for federal funds.

"If the figures don't make them big here, there's a good possibility we won't make it anywhere else," Gehring said.

FEMA will head to Carroll and Madison counties once they finish assessing Benton County.