Relief after summer flooding could be coming for local counties

by: Sarah Rosario Updated:


WASHINGTON D.C. - Relief for local governments who dealt with flooding like this over the summer could be on the way.

Tuesday night, President Barack Obama announced disaster aid for six local counties impacted by the July 27 floods.

Eyewitness News went to one of the hardest hit areas to find out how the help could be used there.

Cracked pavement, downed fences and washed-out baseball fields are just some of the damages left behind at the Betty Ross Park Rec Center in Lincolnton.

It's just one of several places in Lincoln County that flooded after a storm on July 27. Martha Lide, assistant county manager for Lincoln County, said the city of Lincolnton has an estimated $700,000 of damage.

"This is the worst flooding I have ever seen. I have a new respect for water," Lide said.

On Wednesday, leaders in six local counties learned they may soon get help to start rebuilding.

Late Tuesday night, Obama announced a disaster declaration allowing leaders in Ashe, Avery Catawba, Lincoln, Watauga and Wilkes counties to get money from FEMA.

The total damage estimate for those six counties is $13.6 million.

The money will only pay for 75 percent of eligible infrastructure repairs, debris removal and emergency protective measures for local governments and private nonprofit organizations.

The money from FEMA was requested by Gov. Pat Mccrory after he came to look at the damage.

In Lincoln County, in addition to several damaged city pump stations, The Betty Ross Rec Center is at high of their list.

"We have the most damage in the park. We actually stood there during the flooding and could actually see the water rise," Lide said.

Park officials said a majority of the park was underwater. It was so bad at one point that fire crews had to perform a water rescue.

With all the damage still left behind, officials are hoping to have it fixed by the first of the year. But the decision of what gets paid for and when can only be made by FEMA.

County leaders haven't been given a time frame.

They have been told a meeting with state and federal officials to assess the damage will take place within several weeks.

"It will probably be a group meeting and then they will come and meet with us individually," Lide said.

Last month, the White House declared a disaster and made aid available for the flooding in early July. Ashe, Avery and Watagua counties were part of that declaration.

The money allotted to counties for the latest declaration will be in addition to state and local funds already available.