Kittson County won’t see FEMA reimbursement until next year

By Anna Jauhola
Federal dollars to reimburse Kittson County for flood damage and cleanup will not arrive until 2020.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency apparently ran out of properly trained employees to evaluate flood damage, said Scot Olson, county emergency manager, during the county commission meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 3.
“So, they had to train a bunch of people,” he said. “And now with the hurricane, I have no idea what’s going to happen. But they’ve been reaching out to make an exploratory call.”
Olson, County Engineer Kelly Bengtson and Highway Department Accountant Hayley Kresel participated in a conference call with FEMA recently to detail this spring’s flooding damage, the county’s history with flooding and other general questions, Bengtson said.
The next step is for FEMA to hold a scoping meeting on site with county officials to verify there was damage and the completed repairs, he added. They were scheduled to be in the county Tuesday, Sept. 10 for the field visit.
“After that, then we begin submitting and scanning in bills for reimbursement,” Bengtson said.
Olson said he will be working with townships affected by flooding this spring to help them get the right paperwork submitted for reimbursement.
New radios
Olson also reported he was able to purchase 60 800-megahertz radios to ensure all Kittson County emergency services have direct communication with the county dispatch office. He found out at a state radio committee board meeting the highway patrol was replacing their old portable radios and selling them for $300 each.
Each radio comes with a battery, antenna, microphone, extra battery and a charger.
“That’s about $2,000 for all that,” Olson said. “So $300 is a real deal.”
The Kittson County Ambulance got the first round of radios, several fire departments bought a few units and the Pembina and Drayton fire departments bought units as well. Because portions of Kittson County have mutual aid with Pembina and Drayton, they benefit from having these direct radio connections with Kittson County dispatch. Olson only brokered the deal for Kittson County, he said, the county did not pay for the radios. Each individual entity paid for the units they requested.
In other business, the commission:
• Approved altering how dispatchers’ schedules are allocated to allow for four hours of comp time, which ensures they don’t work so many days in a row.
• Approved a resolution in support of funding the reconstruction of the Lake Bronson Dam.
• Approved the 2020 Tax Levy, which is set at $3,964,113.
• Approved unorganized township levies – Klondike Township, $1,500; McKinley Township, $3,000; North Red River Township, $23,330; Peatland Township, zero dollars.
• Heard the annual highway department report from Accountant Hayley Kresel.
• Approved the highway department to advertise for a new motor grader operator for the new unit set to be located out of the Karlstad shop.

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