By Monte Miller
Missourian Staff Writer
It looks like first flooded, first served as Franklin County flood victims will have to wait until at least the second round for federal and state disaster assessments.
Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens announced Thursday, teams from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), and the Small Business Administration (SBA), will conduct flood damage surveys in more than 30 counties, mainly in the southwestern portion of the state.
Franklin County is not included in the first round of assessments, but that does not mean it will not be added in future rounds, according to Missouri Department of Public Safety spokesman Mike O’Connell.
“Other counties may be added,” he told The Missourian. In Franklin and other counties water was too high for local teams to get in and do their initial assessments, which happen before state and FEMA teams can go out.”
O’Connell added flash floodwater goes down faster than river flooding, allowing those local assessments to occur faster. Once that occurs in more counties they can be added to the list.
Franklin County EMA Director Abe Cook said residents here should not be discouraged Franklin County isn’t in the initial wave.
“It doesn’t mean they aren’t coming,” Cook said. “Those areas just got hit first. This is a long process and a long thing to go through.”
Cook added the larger population centers of the state including Franklin, Jefferson, St. Charles and St. Louis counties will add a new degree of complexity to the assessments because there are more residences and businesses affected than where the teams are starting.
County Presiding Commissioner John Griesheimer said he wishes Franklin County was included in the first round, but understands the process.
“If Jefferson and St. Louis counties were included and we weren’t, I would be upset,” Griesheimer said. “That (southwestern) area flooded first and they have to start somewhere. I think we are going to be fine.”
Ten teams are being deployed to the southwestern counties and will survey damage to homes and public infrastructure.
Individual Assistance (IA) teams will assess damage to homes and personal property. Teams will not visit every house and assessments are meant to get a broad overview of damage, according to the Department of Public Safety.
Public Assistance teams assess disaster damage to public infrastructure like roads, bridges and schools as well as to certain nonprofit entities.
Cook explained if and when the teams arrive here they are comprised of a minimum of four people, including a local representative of the affected municipality or unincorporated area.
The assessments will include all flood-affected areas and take a few days.