Hurricane Matthew-related expense estimate climbs for Chatham County

Hurricane Matthew-related expense estimate climbs for Chatham County

CHATHAM CO., GA (WTOC) - After having a request for FEMA dollars to help with storm debris removal from private roads and neighborhoods rejected, the Chatham County Commission is submitting an appeal with hopes of changing the feds' minds.

Hundreds of thousands of cubic yards have already been removed, and the removal process is actually ahead of schedule, according to county leaders.

County Finance Director Amy Davis gave an update at Friday's Chatham County Commission meeting, saying the new estimate for Matthew-related expenses is $6.5 million more than the last. Following some discussion, commission members voted unanimously to increase the fund to $22.2 million.

The county's share of the hike totals roughly $1.5 million.

County Manager Lee Smith said reserve funds are being hit hard with the allocation of taxpayer dollars to cover storm-related expenses, adding the commission and staff will need to have a serious discussion down the road about replenishing those funds. And that could affect things like the dry trash fee and the millage rates.

For the time being, county officials are hopeful FEMA will consider their appeal for the private road debris pickup cost coverage, since there's more debris than originally estimated.

"They were basing their judgment on their own estimates, and I'll give you an example. In The Landings, they said 4000 cubic yards. If you've been out and looked at what they've just picked up, and what we've picked's way beyond. You're near 100, 200,000 cubic yards," Smith said.

In their appeal to FEMA, sent off today by the way, the county also made a strong case for public health hazards left behind by storm debris, specifically relating to the mosquito population and spread of diseases.

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