Next week: FEMA to assess York County storm damage

Lindsey O'Laughlin
The York Dispatch
PEMA Director Rick Flinn, center left, looks on as Gov. Tom Wolf addresses media while touring the property of Amy and Paul Nevin that was damaged by flooding on Accomac Road in Hellam Township, Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2018. Dawn J. Sagert photo

The Federal Emergency Management Agency will visit York County next week to assess the damage inflicted by last weekend's storms.

David Thomason, a senior program analyst at the FEMA Region III office in Philadelphia, stressed that this is only the beginning of the process to determine if the commonwealth, and in turn the county, will be eligible for federal disaster aid.

"We are just in the process of gathering information," he said. "No decisions have been made."

On Wednesday, Gov. Tom Wolf visited areas in York County affected by the flooding, saying this was one of the worst emergencies he could think of since Hurricane Agnes in 1972.

"I don't think Pennsylvania has ever faced this series of emergencies before. So we have to figure out what we can do in this new environment if this is going to be what we face in the future so these things don't have the devastating impact they have," Wolf said.

Wolf praised the local response to the storms.

"Every place I've seen these local disasters, local folks have banded together to actually get things back to normal," he said. "That's a really big deal."

He also said he wanted to give help and encouragement to those who are cleaning up the damage to their property.

"I want to make the point that we in Harrisburg care and want to share our sympathy for what's going on here," Wolf said. "We're going to do what we can to help, but in the end, these are disasters."

FEMA: Ruth Miller, spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, said FEMA representatives plan to visit the county Monday and Tuesday, Sept. 10-11, to focus on damages related to individual assistance for homeowners. They will visit again Thursday and Friday, Sept. 13-14, to look into damages related to public assistance for municipal governments and qualifying nonprofit organizations. 

That schedule is subject to change, though, Miller said.

More:PennDOT: Some York County roads will be closed for weeks

More:York County officials: Call 2-1-1 for help cleaning up from storm

More:Ma & Pa Railroad Village damaged by flooding

Miller said that in order to request a federal disaster declaration for public assistance, Pennsylvania must meet a threshold of $18.5 million in costs and damages.

As for individual assistance, Thomason said the current self-reported damages and next week's FEMA assessment do not count as official applications for aid. If a federal disaster declaration is made, homeowners will need to submit an application through FEMA, and their property will be individually assessed for damages.

The maximum individual payout available is $34,000, he said.

Thomason also said that if any of the storm damage is covered by an individual's home insurance, the property owners might be ineligible for federal assistance, which is why the agency recommends buying flood insurance. 

"If they have flood insurance, that’s generally the best thing," he said. "The policies on those, which are underwritten by FEMA, go up to over $200,000 in terms of what's covered."

There are so many variables with each disaster event that Thomason said there's no way to predict how long it will take FEMA to determine Pennsylvania's eligibility. He emphasized that there's still a long process to complete.

Reporting damage: York County spokesman Mark Walters said that as of Wednesday morning, 261 people had submitted reports to the county about property damage caused over the weekend, more than twice the 124 reports submitted after storms in July and August.

To report damage from Friday's storm, fill out the form here or find it at https://yorkcountypa.gov.

Walters also said that more than 1,000 people have signed up for the South Central Task Force emergency alert system.

On Friday, the county Office of Emergency Management recommended that the commissioner's office declare a disaster, after which the commissioners voted to make it official, Walters said. He explained that a disaster declaration allows the county government to coordinate with other municipalities and bypass standard bidding procedures for contractors.

This way, the county can arrange for immediate infrastructure repairs, as opposed to putting out bids and having to wait for a vote at a regular meeting. Walters said the declaration also allows municipalities to share resources and personnel.

Walters said it will be a while before the county can take a step back and debrief on the emergency response, but it will happen once the major damage is addressed and operations start returning to normal.

"There’s always something to learn from an event and how it was handled so we can be better prepared to deal with the next one," he said.

Roads closed

As of Wednesday afternoon, this is the most recent list of roads that are either closed to traffic or open with lane restrictions due to flooding and storm damage, according to York County spokesman Mark Walters:

Chanceford Township

  • Dellinger Road: closed between Lucky and Pomraning roads.
  • Douglas Road: restricted lanes between Hill and Green Branch roads.
  • Duff Hollow Road: closed between Laurel and Wise roads.
  • Fake Road: closed between Stamper and Duff Hollow roads.
  • Game Club Road: closed between Gum Tree and Collinsville roads.
  • Glen Allen School Road: closed between Hake and Gipe roads.
  • Goram Road: restricted lanes between Mill and Gordon House roads. 
  • Gum Tree Road: closed between McKinley and Mill roads. 
  • Hake Road: closed from Burkholder Road to dead end.
  • Hilltop Road: closed between Lucky and Gipe roads.
  • Hively Road: closed between Goram and Mill roads.
  • Kline Road: closed between Mill and Goram roads.
  • Kupp Road: restricted lanes at Chapel Church Road.
  • Laurel Road: closed between Brogueville and Wise roads.
  • Manor Furnace Road: closed between Felton and Brown roads. 
  • Markle Road: restricted lanes between Pickle and Mill Branch roads.
  • Mill Road: restricted lanes between Goram and Gum Tree roads.
  • Old Forge Road: closed between Duff Hollow and Wolf Road.
  • Pomraning Road: restricted lanes.
  • Scout Camp Road: restricted lanes between Furnance and Old Bridgeville roads.
  • Short Cut Road: closed between Canning House and Glenmills roads.
  • Smith Hollow Road: closed between Gum Tree and Lucky roads.
  • Ted Wallace Road: closed between Muddy Creek and Workinger roads. 

East Hopewell Township

  • Ted Wallace Road: closed between Muddy Creek and Workinger roads.
  • Collins School Road: bridge closed between Mead Hill and High Rock roads.
  • Rambo Road: bridge closed between Trout School and Glessick School roads.

Fawn Township

  • Woodbine Road: bridge closed between West Woodbine and Norris roads.

Hellam Township

  • Accomac Road: closed between Dark Hollow and River roads.
  • Kreis Lane: closed at Kreutz Creek Road.
  • Kreutz Creek Road: closed between Pleasant Valley and Tracey School roads.
  • North River Drive: closed between Furnace and Accomac roads.

Hopewell Township

  • Deer Creek Road: bridge closed between Gemmill and Five Forks roads.
  • Gemmill Road: bridge closed between Deer Creek and Cooper roads.

Lower Chanceford Township

  • Frosty Hill Road: bridge closed between Kennedy and Stewart roads.
  • Good Road: bridge closed between Frosty Hill and Stewart roads.
  • Lucky Road: bridge closed between Gipe and Pickel roads.
  • Woodbine Road: bridge closed between Frosty Hill and Delta roads.

Shrewsbury Township

  • Hametown Road: closed between Reservoir and Glen Valley roads.
  • Line Road: closed between Short and Brillstrick roads.
  • West Clearview Road: restricted lanes over bridge at Shady Court.