Worcester Gets $75K Irene Reimbursement

SNOW HILL — Nine months after Hurricane Irene cut through Worcester County, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has reimbursed the county $75,694 for storm damages and preventive services.

That figure represents 75 percent of the roughly $100,000 cost of Irene to the county. Specific county agencies such as the Board of Education and Health Department received their own separate compensation.

“This was not an easy process,” said Emergency Services Director Teresa Owens.

Though the impact of Irene on the county came in far milder than predicted, Owens informed the commission that over $100,000 worth of storm-related expenses were incurred by the event.

“Fortunate for Worcester County, our storm damage was minimal,” she wrote in a memo to the commission. “The majority of expenses incurred were categorized as ‘Emergency Protective Measures Countywide.’”

This included the cost of county employees working overtime during the storm as well as the operation of emergency shelters.

Worcester didn’t escape all damage, with Owens singling out Assateague Island as catching some of the negative effects of Irene.

Besides the county at large, agencies like the Board of Education and Health Department also received reimbursement for their emergency protective measures.

The school board received $23,554 from FEMA, the lion’s share of that coming from several schools being used as emergency shelters during the storm. The Health Department took in $30,290.

Additionally, several municipalities got some funding from FEMA. Ocean City, which evacuated days before Irene hit, received $97,858. The smaller towns further inland received much less. Berlin got $31,226, while Snow Hill received $11,954. Pocomoke took in almost $16,000.

According to Owens, FEMA required an “enormous amount of information and documentation” before they would release any reimbursement.

“We taxed your county staff tremendously and asked many things of them,” she told the commission.

Everyone came through, said Owens, and receiving the money from FEMA was a team effort.

“Everyone in the county performed way above their expectations,” agreed Commission President Bud Church, who went on to thank employees both for their work securing reimbursement and their actions during Irene.