It is now official. Almost two months after July monsoons caused nearly $3 million in damage, Mohave County has been declared an emergency area. Governor Janet Napolitano signed a Declaration of Emergency for Mohave, Cochise, Gila and Pinal counties and the towns of Cave Creek and Mammoth on Sept. 14.
Mohave County received notification by mail earlier this week.
The Board of Supervisors declared an emergency in August and applied for $2.5 million in long-term aid from the state.
At that point, $90,000 had already been spent on temporary repairs to roads that were damaged or washed away.
Byron Steward, Mohave County emergency management coordinator, estimated that repairs could be as high as $3.7 million if the county is not able to handle all the repairs itself and has to hire contractors.
"This should make it possible for us to get 75 percent reimbursement on the repair of damages to public infrastructure," he said. The Arizona Department of Emergency Management will be sending disaster specialists to the county to meet with County Public Works officials and review documentation of the damage.
"We will provide documentation of expenses so far to bring the roads up to where they could be used, and together, we can figure out what remains to be done to get them back to pre-storm condition," he said.
The county will not be able to apply for aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency because there was not enough storm damage statewide to declare a state emergency, Steward said.
"The state didn't have that level of storm damage. That is why Gov. Napolitano's declaration is so important to us. It will tie us into state reimbursement for repairs of our infrastructure."
According to county documents, Diamond Bar Road, the road that leads to Grand Canyon West and the Skywalk, was particularly hard hit. Also damaged were Greg's Hideout and a number of other roads in the Golden Valley area.
"County roads to the Grand Canyon West Resort and residential areas of the county have been severely damaged by monsoon rainstorms, creating hazardous road conditions requiring reconstruction that has overloaded Public Works' repair capabilities," the application for aid states.
The county states in the application that local contractors are available but "county funding sources are being exceeded."
"Luckily, the storms pretty well missed the incorporated areas. So we are basically dealing with our rural roads in the unincorporated areas. This money will also not apply to individual home owners," he said.
A disaster incident has to impact at least 25 primary residents which receive at least 40 percent uninsured damage to their homes and its contents before private homeowners can apply for assistance, Steward said.
"Just because someone doesn't live in a designated flood zone, doesn't mean they won't get hit with flood damage," he said. "We encourage people to talk to their insurance agents about flood insurance. Some homes damaged in this last event were not in flood plains."
Steward also recommended that families have an emergency disaster plan and a portable disaster kit. Residents can call Mohave County Emergency Management for more information at 757-0910.