The Nodaway County Commissioners have exhausted several avenues including US Senator Josh Hawley and US Congressman Sam Graves’ offices, to retrieve Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) disaster dollars when spring 2019 flood waters took out a bridge in Atchison Township.
“We have appealed twice, which is the most we can, to FEMA about their decision to not fund the replacement of the bridge east of Clearmont,” said North District Commissioner Chris Burns.
The bridge, commonly known as the Koger Bridge, was denied replacement funding due to “lack of maintenance” noted the FEMA correspondence. However the bridge located on 140th Street is part of the MoDOT semi-annual inspection which was approved in 2015, 2017 and in January 2019 before the flood waters destroyed it.
“It was used the day before the flood by the school bus and the rural letter carrier,” said Burns.
The $239,436.38 claim should have 80 percent paid by FEMA. The initial report of the project May 24, 2019 completion by the county’s bridge crew was turned into FEMA September 19, 2019.
Correspondence with FEMA has been as recent as June 14, 2020 reiterating the claim has been denied.
Commissioners have called for aid from elected officials including State Representative Allen Andrews, State Senator Dan Hegeman as well as representatives from US Senator Josh Hawley, Elizabeth Johnson and Matt Barry, of US Congressman Sam Graves’ office with no response. It has been reported that FEMA has paid up on levees in Holt County with Graves’ office convincing that were destroyed by flood waters.
Snyder and Associate employee Andy Macias, who is considered an expert with bridge construction and replacement, has agreed with the commissioners, there was no additional maintenance needed to the structure prior to the flood waters and was never officially set for repair or replacement by MoDOT prior to the floodwaters. He also indicated the 2015, 2017 and 2019 MoDOT reports notes there was no channel scour indicated which would cause the bridge to fail if present. He further noted “the bridge failed when high waters and high velocities began cutting behind the back wall and then undermined the substructure of the bridge. There were no noticeable damages to the bridge until this event and the following morning a local landowner called the county and informed them of the damage that occurred overnight.”
These comments were shared in a letter to James Remillard, acting director of State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), on January 27, 2021. SEMA is the pass-through agency for the federal agency, FEMA.