Riiska Prepares FEMA Application

Firmer damage figures are becoming known stemming from the July flash floods in South Norfolk. First Selectman Matt Riiska said Thursday that he would submit an application for federal emergency relief Friday, although he cautioned there are still more expenses to be counted.

“There is a lot of paperwork involved,” he said, “but it appears that the cost of just roads, without any bridges included, is $600,000. The bridges will add another $3.5 million-plus, so the total is more than $4 million.”

Riiska reported last week that no declaration of emergency has been declared by the state. The state must document damages in excess of $6 million dollars to declare an emergency. “With the damage in the towns around, it could easily get over $6 million and we will go from there,” he said.

He has talked with engineers about preliminary plans for local bridges so that he can get in line for state and federal funding and is hopeful that the bridges will qualify for federal assistance, which reimburses 80 percent of the cost. The state shares 50 percent of the cost.

“My job is to find the other 20 percent,” Riiska said. “Given the circumstances, it would seem like the state and feds have to come with a greater portion of the costs—we can’t pay for these bridges with all the other things that are going on.”

He said that he must have costs so he can get the work qualified through the state DOT. “Once they say okay, then we can go to engineering, which will take several months. We have to make sure to get the survey work, boring and drilling done before winter. The plan would be to go to bid early in the spring.” 

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