Declaration opens door to funds

KINGMAN - A Flood Emergency is in effect for all of Mohave County following Board of Supervisors Chairman Tom Sockwell's signing of a formal declaration late Friday afternoon.

"The declaration is for the entire county based on the flooding from Jan. 20 through (Jan. 22), although most of the damage occurred on Jan. 21," said Mohave County Emergency Management Coordinator Byron Steward.

The declaration states "the unusually strong rain and windstorms and flooding of Jan. 20 to 22, 2010 ... have caused extensive destruction to private property and to the many public facilities, streets, and roads within Mohave County" and "has resulted in a condition of peril to the health and safety of many citizens .... It is hereby declared that an emergency now exists in Mohave County, Ariz."

Steward noted that there appear to be a number of roads throughout the county that have been washed out to the extent they will require extensive repair.

"The road crossings along the Big Sandy River that washed out in 2005 have pretty much washed out again and will need to be repaired," he said. "We have a lot of miscellaneous reports of damage, emergency costs, overtime costs, backfill costs and other expenses in response to (Thursday's) storm which should potentially qualify for assistance as well."

Under a Mohave County resolution dated Nov. 2, 1964, the chairman of the Board has authority to declare a state of emergency in the county, Steward said. "Chairman Sockwell signed it and I faxed it to the Arizona Division of Emergency Management. They will now add us to the list of counties that have declared." Ten other counties and the state at large have already declared emergencies.

"This will allow us to be able to be included in the declaration the state sends off to the Federal Emergency Management Agency when they request assistance," he said. "If that is granted, it will provide FEMA disaster assistance money to Mohave County for public infrastructure. We are also looking at the prospect of getting Small Business Administration loans for assistance to individuals if it turns out that 40 percent or more of individual home damage is to the uninsured. That will depend on the number of homes impacted within the state as a whole."

Meanwhile, the Arizona Department of Transportation has received no reports of structural damage to its roadways in the Kingman District, which include Highway 68, Highway 95, U.S. 93 and Interstate 40. ADOT spokeswoman Michele Beggs did note, however, that there was extensive standing water on the roadways in certain areas.

"There's been considerable flooding on State Route 95 in the Fort Mohave area," Beggs said. "Once the storm has passed, ADOT crews will be assessing the damage, which we know does include a significant number of potholes throughout the district."

Once the damage has been assessed, Beggs said ADOT crews would begin filling in the potholes, though she was uncertain whether that effort would draw upon the emergency FEMA funds or ADOT's own ailing repair budget.

"Our priority is to continue to make sure our state highways are safe, open and passable for motorists to travel," she said. "All our crews have been working around the clock to ensure this."