Issaquah’s bill for response to January storms tops $500,000

February 21, 2012

By Warren Kagarise

The city’s initial tally for response and cleanup from the January snowstorm and subsequent ice storm reached $530,000 — although the number could shrink if federal officials release dollars for disaster efforts.

Officials used the dollars to put snowplows on Issaquah streets in 24-hour stretches, clear fallen trees and haul off debris.

The city could receive federal dollars as a reimbursement if President Barack Obama declares the January storms as a federal disaster. Such a decision means local governments could apply for reimbursements for emergency response and cleanup activities.

If a declaration occurs, Issaquah officials said about $383,000 in costs related to the storms could be eligible for reimbursement through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The city could receive a 75 percent reimbursement from FEMA and another 12.5 percent reimbursement from the state.

In the storms’ aftermath, city officials set up a debris drop-off station at Tibbetts Valley Park and collected 306 tons of debris from Issaquah residents. The city could receive some federal assistance to offset the cost of opening the drop-off site.

The recent storms rank among the costliest disaster in recent years for Issaquah.

Citywide, floodwaters left behind about $1 million in damage — not to mention piles of debris and muck — after Issaquah and Tibbetts creeks overflowed in January 2009.

The cost to the city for flood response and recovery amounted to about $158,000 for debris removal, sandbagging and bank restoration at several bridges. Officials had set aside about $37,000 for flood response beforehand, but because the president declared King County a federal disaster area, Issaquah received reimbursement from FEMA.

In December 2008, after a major snowstorm slammed the Puget Sound region, city officials spent $205,000 on storm response — about $87,000 in 2008 and about $118,000 in early 2009.

Issaquah dodged significant flooding in 2011, and the last flooding to occur in the city resulted after a Pineapple Express storm barreled into the region in early December 2010.

Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or wkagarise@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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