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FEMA inspects damaged line

Three months after a winter storm damaged Buckley’s water transmission main, city officials were at last able to convince the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to examine the site in order to confirm the need for repairs.

Buckley Fire Chief Alan Predmore, who also serves as the city’s emergency management director, said a group of four FEMA representatives and one person from the state looked over the area where a concrete dam diverts water from South Prairie Creek. They agreed that repairs are required to return the site to its previous condition, Predmore said. Further, it was noted that improvements are needed to fortify the infrastructure in order to prevent future damage, he said.

FEMA’s approval of the recommended work is critical, considering the price tag expected to accompany the repair work.

Predmore explained that if everything goes smoothly, FEMA will pay 75 percent of the estimated $1.2 million bill; the state customarily picks up 12.5 percent and the city would absorb the remaining 12.5 percent, he said.

“We intend to accomplish this project as efficiently and as cost-effectively as possible,” Predmore said, “because 12.5 percent of that $1.2 million represents a pretty large amount of money, $125,000, to be precise.”

Predmore hopes the city can start accepting bids for the work as soon as September, but he cautioned that FEMA sometimes moves slowly when it comes to approving the funding for emergency repairs.

“It is vitally important that we get going on this thing,” he said, “because we don’t want to have people up there trying to repair the site during the stormy winter months.” Too long a delay, he said, could mean postponing the project until the spring of 2010 for safety reasons.

Predmore recalls flood damage to the same water transmission main site in November 2006 that required FEMA funding, which was delivered in the summer of 2008, about 20 months later.

Reach John Leggett at jleggett@courierherald.com or 360-802-8207.

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