Board will follow state in disaster declaration
By STEPH TAHTINEN
Mt. Pleasant News
Recent flooding has caused Iowa Governor Terry Brandstad to declare Henry County a disaster area, and on Thursday, the Henry County Board of Supervisors plans to do the same.
Henry County Emergency Management Coordinator Walt Jackson presented the board of supervisors with a copy of the declaration on Tuesday morning, which will be included on Thursday’s agenda.
Jackson explained that the county declaration is necessary for the county to be eligible for funding from FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency).
“For individual assistance you don’t need to have a county declaration, but for public assistance you do,” said Jackson.
Jackson said that FEMA representatives will be coming to Henry County soon to be visiting with him and Interim County Engineer Clarence Perry.
Perry told the supervisors during his weekly update although the actual amount of damage will not be known until the water goes back down, he has submitted an estimate of $80,000 in damage.
“When the water goes down, we might find we have more than that,” said Perry.
Flooding has caused a problem with the county’s roads in Oakland Mills, north of New London and in the Winfield area. Perry said that crews were setting up barricades on Sunday and Monday.
With the Skunk River over its banks, there was five feet of sand piled on 253rd Street and the road in front of Butch’s River Rock Café was washed away down to the rock, noted Perry.
“The river is going down,” he said, though he noted it all depends on how much water is still coming from the north.
The water level dropping means good news for cleaning up the logjam by the highway bridge on Highway 55.
When the supervisors bid the project in May, Batey Limited had the low bid with $31,750 to the remove the logs and burn them onsite. However, with the water level going up and more logs piling up in the jam, there had been some concern whether that price would still cover the work to be done.
“That’s kind of like ‘your guess is as good as mine,’” said Perry. “I can’t argue that there may be more work there.”
He said he has talked with Batey Limited and if there is more work to be done, there will be a work order that must be approved by both Batey Limited and the county. This work order is not to exceed $6,000 — an amount which still keeps Batey Limited underneath the amount of the second bid received for the project from Maddy Tree Service for $38,150.
Perry was unsure when Batey Limited will begin clearing out the logjam — it all depends on the river.
“They’re hoping that it will be down enough that they can at least start next week,” he said.
The plan is to use barges on the river with equipment on them to haul out the logs.
“It’s pretty slick,” commented Perry.
The logs will then be burned on site on the west bank of the river.
“They assured us that they’re not going to have a huge fire,” said Perry, noting that they would be adding small amounts of logs at a time and that they dry out pretty quickly.
There is the possibility that Highway W55 will be restricted to one lane of traffic at times. The county will be providing the traffic signs, and Batey Limited will provide the flagpeople, Perry noted.
In other business, the supervisors:
• Approved the annual contract with Solutions Inc., for the county’s software system.
• Heard an update from the safety committee. For the fifth year in a row, the county’s workman’s compensation premium has decreased. Last year it was $61,907 and it is now $53,040 — a difference of $8,867. The county is receiving a 40 percent discount on its premium.