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* News Release *
 
Thursday, July 11, 2002
For Immediate Release

Canal Road to Receive Long-Awaited Repairs
FEMA Agrees to Fund Flood Repairs

Today, Butler County Engineer Greg Wilkens announced that funding for repairs to Canal Road in Fairfield Township, which was damaged by flash flooding last July, has been made available through FEMA. Wilkens joined Congressman John Boehner and State Representative Shawn Webster in an extensive effort to obtain this funding. Almost one year later, the repair project is now under way, according to Wilkens.

"We appreciate the diligent efforts of Congressman Boehner and Representative Webster who have helped us secure the needed funding to re-open this road to traffic," Wilkens said.

Canal Road suffered extensive damage when a portion of the roadway was washed out the night of July 17-18, 2001, as six to eight inches of rain deluged the area. Flash flooding from that storm caused millions of dollars in damage and several deaths in southwest Ohio, triggering the declaration of a federal disaster. While the Butler County Engineer's Office (BCEO) promptly repaired most local road and bridge damage, Canal Road has remained closed since the flooding. Due to the extent of the damage, the County did not have funding available to perform the repairs. The federal disaster status enabled FEMA to fund most of the storm repairs, but Canal Road posed a special problem.

"Following FEMA's damage assessment, we were told that since the erosion appeared to be caused by the adjacent Hydraulic Canal, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has jurisdiction over funding for any repairs made," Wilkens said. "However, when we contacted the NRCS, we were told that no funding was available because the NRCS Emergency Watershed Protection Program is funded only through supplemental appropriation legislation. Even if such legislation were enacted, this project would be placed on a significant waiting list before funding might be obtained."

Since the NRCS was unable to fund the Canal Road repairs, Butler County officials again pursued the matter with FEMA -- this time turning to Congressman Boehner for his assistance. In a letter to FEMA Director Joseph Allbaugh, Boehner urged the agency to review all funding possibilities that could be made available to the Butler County Engineer's Office. "In the interest of time, the convenience for those who use Canal Road, and the overall project cost, I would like to know if this project can be funded through your agency's disaster relief fund," Boehner stated in the letter.

FEMA reviewed the Canal Road project once again and determined that since the road is an eligible public facility, all work integral to the repair of the road, including correcting the stream bank erosion, is eligible work, thus allowing FEMA to fund 75% of the costs of the project.

William Powers, Public Assistance Team Leader for FEMA's Recovery Branch, said, "We are happy to report that the BCEO will receive $200,000 from FEMA for Canal Road repairs.

“This case is a lesson in persistence and cooperation when dealing with often-confusing federal regulations,” said Boehner. “I’m pleased this worked out for my neighbors in Butler County, and I am happy I was able to assist the Engineer’s Office in their efforts to obtain the funding for the road work.”

Repairs Now Under Way

Work to repair Canal Road has begun and is expected to be completed by late August. A contract for the project was awarded to Sunesis Construction which submitted a low bid of $299,614. The detour currently in effect will remain unchanged during construction.

Canal Road Photo 1.
Canal Road Photo 2.
Additional images from July 17-18, 2001 flash floods.

# # #

For more information contact:

Chris Petrocy, Public Information Supervisor
Greg Wilkens, P.E., P.S., Butler County Engineer
Phone 513.867.5744 • Fax 513.867.5849
Steve Forde with Congressman John Boehner's office at 202.225.6205


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