Warren, Frederick to see aid for snowstorm costs

Most valley localities can expect federal aid to cover the clean-up costs related to the Jan. 22-24 snowstorm.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced Tuesday that President Barack Obama approved federal disaster assistance for Virginia to help state agencies, 25 localities and some private, nonprofit organizations recover from the storm.

McAuliffe requested aid through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Public Assistance Program, which reimburses local and state governments on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of damaged facilities.

The approval means the assistance program is available to Frederick County as one of more than a dozen direct recipients. Warren County also can receive aid as a locality contiguous to a direct recipient. Other nearby counties that qualify include Clarke, Fauquier and Rappahannock. Page County also is a contiguous locality that qualified.

Warren County can receive $211,326 in federal aid, said Richard Mabie, chief of the Department of Fire and Rescue Services. Mabie’s department submitted the estimated cost associated with the storm’s impact on the county. He said in late January that the county reported a cost estimate of $329,000 – that included the cost to assign more paid responders to volunteer stations, the Sheriff’s Office, snow removal in the county and maintenance in the sanitary districts. The total included an estimate of $129,040 from Front Royal.

Shenandoah County was not listed as either a direct recipient or contiguous locality. When the Virginia Department of Emergency Management made the request to President Obama, the Federal Emergency Management Agency had not approved that Shenandoah received a snowfall of record – a requirement to qualify for assistance – Dawn Eischen, external affairs director for FEMA, said by email Tuesday.

“There is a process for adding localities and we are working with Shenandoah County to have them added to this declaration,” Eischen said.

Shenandoah County needed to meet a threshold of approximately $150,000 to become eligible for relief, Chief Gary Yew, of the Department of Fire and Rescue, said in late January. Estimates for the county and the towns came close to that threshold. The county also could meet the threshold if it fell within 90 percent of historic snowfall totals as determined by the National Weather Service, Yew said.

Frederick County’s costs came in at an estimated $271,500, according to information provided in late January by public information officer Karen Vacchio.

Eligible costs for reimbursement include: activation of emergency personnel to respond to the storm; snow and debris removal; repairs to publicly owned property, such as roads, water and sewer systems; and other related emergency services.

Shenandoah and Warren counties put extra paid responders in the field during the storm.

McAuliffe declared a state of emergency the day before the storm and mobilized the Virginia National Guard to assist with the response. The Virginia Department of Emergency Management coordinated the response with other state agencies and partners.

More than 2 feet of snow fell in parts of Virginia during the storm. State police responded to thousands of calls for service. The Virginia Office of the Chief Medical Examiner confirmed 11 storm-related deaths. The Virginia Department of Transportation used a force of almost 10,000 workers and contractors to clear snow from state roads.

Towns provided estimated costs associated with the response efforts and clean up from the storm. Counties submitted their costs along with those from the towns to the Virginia Department of Emergency Management. Cost estimates included overtime pay and other compensation provided to fire and rescue workers as well as law enforcement agents assigned during the storm.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com