December 5, 2019

County commissioners get update on September flood - Daily Leader Extra : Local News

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County commissioners get update on September flood

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Posted: Wednesday, October 2, 2019 3:43 pm

Flood-related items did not top the agenda at the Lake County Commission meeting on Tuesday morning, but they did prove to be a refrain to which commissioners returned several times during the meeting.

Emergency Management Director Kody Keefer provided commissioners with a local update. He said he has received reports of 297 damaged structures, including private businesses, private residences and rental property.

He noted the American Red Cross did a "boots on the ground" assessment which resulted in higher numbers. Keefer said that as of last Friday, they had conducted 851 home assessments; they determined eight were destroyed and another 287 had received major damage.

In addition, 254 had received minor damage. The Red Cross indicated 285 had also been affected in some way. Keefer said 17 homes remained inaccessible.

He noted an after-action review was held last week which identified opportunities for improvement. These included a need for a better contact list for resources and better communication with AT&T, which failed to keep fuel in a generator after the company lost power to its local tower.

He told commissioners that at this point, the cost of addressing the flood event is unknown. He has met with Lake County Auditor Bobbi Janke and with city finance officers to review the bills that have been received.

"Some of the things we haven't received the invoice for," Keefer said.

When commissioners approved the accounts payable earlier in the meeting, Janke noted that she had separated out the bills related to the September flood event. These included bills for sandbags, generator fuel, zip ties and boat fuel.

Keefer reported people throughout the county are looking at ways to mitigate the impact of future flood events. He said Brad Lawrence, city utilities director, has indicated the city will be attempting to prevent future power outages.

Keefer said townships may try to build up the roads more. The county Highway Department will be exploring options such as installing more culverts.

Keefer said downstream neighbors will also be considered before any action is taken.

He reiterated what he has said before -- that it will take time before FEMA funds are available. The governor's office is still collecting information about the flood event in order to submit a request to the president. Keefer pointed out the president just approved a disaster declaration for the May-June event.

He indicated he will continue to conduct research so he will have a better understanding of the options available should FEMA funds become available.

"That is my biggest thing -- to dig up as many options as possible," Keefer said.

In related business, city commissioner Jeremiah Corbin asked the county to share the cost of having the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers conduct a Section 22 study involving Park Creek and Silver Creek. According to paperwork submitted, the study was recommended "to evaluate alternatives for flood risk management."

The study will use updated hydrology and hydraulics modeling to evaluate alternatives and update costs for projects identified in a study conducted following the 1993 flood. These include a detention dam on Park Creek upstream from Madison, a detention pond west of US-81 on a Park Creek tributary, and improving the railroad bridge.

Corbin said the county "led the charge" on Phase I, and city officials thought the county would want to be involved with Phase II. He indicated administrative work will be done by the city engineer's office.

"For this partnership, we're just looking for money from the county," Corbin said.

Janke said the requested funds could come from the Emergency Management budget, but that fund would have to be supplemented.

Corbin explained the study would make local governments eligible for funding from federal programs. Shelli Gust, commission administrative officer, affirmed that a Section 22 study was required to be eligible for Corps cost-sharing programs.

Corbin said flood mitigation efforts failed in 1995 because area residents believed the flood to be a 100-year event. With a second flood event, he believed local governments should revisit the options and the costs.

Commissioners discussed other possible partners for sharing the cost, which is projected to be $150,000. The Corps will cover $75,000, but a match of $75,000 from a nonfederal partner is required. The city committed $50,000.

Lake County Commissioners approved contributing $25,000 to meet the local nonfederal match for the project.

In other business, the commission:

-- Approved a resolution adopting the Lake County 5-Year Transportation plan. Commissioners did ask office manager Debbie Rowley and highway foreman Tim Tolley to review the plan with them.

Rowley said the county is now taking core samples from the road as part of the overlay process before putting down fill. She suggested comparing the north section of County Road 23 (460th Avenue) to the south section to see the difference that adding this step makes.

She noted culverts have been failing "from the get go" as a result of the spring snow and subsequent flooding. She said the highway crews have spent a significant amount of time with those repairs.

"Our major concern right now is our bridges," Rowley said.

Two bridges have been added to the county bridge plan: the bridge on 456th Avenue north of SD-34 and the bridge on 462nd Avenue between Round Lake and Brant Lake. She said the bridge on the John Deere road is closed, but not listed.

"It's just a work in progress," she said. The bridges are currently being inspected by an engineer.

-- Approved an agreement with Automatic Building Controls, Inc., to check fire alarms in the Lake County Courthouse and the Public Safety Building. The combined cost will be $622.

-- Passed a resolution approving the developer's agreement with Nielson Construction establishing the terms and conditions for the housing development known as Cyber Estates, with the legal description of Tract 1 of Miller's Fifth Addition. The commission previously approved a resolution creating the Tax Increment Financing district which includes payment of a grant not to exceed $1.8 million toward the cost of development.

-- Heard the first reading of an ordinance establishing a 30-mph speed zone on County Road 52 (241st Avenue) for one-half mile on either side of the intersection with County Road 15 (464th Avenue) in Chester. A public hearing will be held on Oct. 15.

-- Following an executive session, voted to appoint Nels Nelson to serve as Lake County highway superintendent effective Oct. 28. His starting salary will be $27.25 and he will not receive a cost-of-living increase in 2020.

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