The Salem City Council held a special meeting Feb. 9 to discuss how to go about cleaning city roads and streets after the recent ice storm.
According to Salem Mayor Gary Clayton, Fulton County has qualified for state and federal reimbursement for storm damage. The state will reimburse 12.5 percent and 75 percent will be reimbursed on the federal level through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The city will have to pay for the other 12.5 percent that the state and FEMA does not reimburse.
"Right now, we're still operating in the dark," Mayor Clayton said. "We really don't know a whole lot."
"There are some questions about reimbursement rates and things like that that haven't been cleared up, yet," Mayor Clayton said. "Hopefully, we'll get this nailed down real soon."
"Our very basic plan at this point is to gather up some equipment and start working this thing out one street at a time," Mayor Clayton said.
The mayor said the city has a limited amount of people and equipment to clean up the roads in the six month time period FEMA alloted for the county to get rid of debris to qualify for reimbursement. "We'll be hiring some people and we'll be hiring some equipment," Mayor Clayton said.
"We had allocated, I think $21,000 for a dump truck on the last budget. I think we probably need to go ahead and buy that now and put that thing to work through this and we can pay for a substantial part of it," Mayor Clayton said. He also said grapplers are also needed to pick up brush along streets and put it in the back of dump trucks.
"That's probably the two things we need right now," Mayor Clayton said.
He said the city will try to pull as much money as it can out of the general and street funds and put it in a separate account according to the storm number, which the county has called 127. This new account will be used to pay for the city cleanup up front before FEMA and the state reimburse the costs.
"This will simplify the record keeping drastically," Mayor Clayton said. "It's going to be a very meticulous record-keeping process, I can assure you of that."
The mayor said he didn't know how long cleanup will take because he said there is a large amount of debris on the streets to remove. "I don't know how fast it's going to go to clean up these streets," Mayor Clayton said. "The streets are narrow and there are lots of brush on every one of them that I've been on. It may move slower than I think it (will) and it may move faster than I think it will. I don't know."
During the special meeting, two representatives from Drury Construction Company informed the council that they had experience with cleanup after the Missouri ice storm in 2007 and have dealt with FEMA before.
After the representatives were through with their presentation, Mayor Clayton said he had had offers from other out-of-town debris removal companies but he said it would be better to use local people instead. "I think our best bet is to use local resources and local people," Mayor Clayton said.
According to Salem Fire Chief Heath Everett, Salem is still on a citywide burn ban until further notice. Currently, residents can take brush to Carpenter's Metal and Recycling in Viola on Highway 62-412, David Baldridge's on Highway 63 or Ken Rega's in Agnos. According to Fulton County Judge Charles Willett, the county is working to establish more dump sites within the next week.