April showers bring disaster declaration to county

Posted 4/23/19

The storms rocking the Brazos Valley in April were a disaster for Madison County.

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April showers bring disaster declaration to county

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The storms rocking the Brazos Valley in April were a disaster for Madison County.

At least, that’s what county government expects.

Downed trees and power lines, among other damage, plagued Madison County after multiple storms this month, most notably the weekend of April 12-14. County officials expect the total cost to the county will rise above the threshold for the them to declare a disaster for the area, $51,650.

“At this time, we only have estimated damages of approximately $20,000 for Madison County Infrastructure,” Shelly Butts, Madison County emergency management coordinator said in an e-mail Monday evening. “This amount includes costs associated with the Commissioners and their crews cleaning up limbs, trees, and debris along county roads. It also includes repair costs for the courthouse and annex.”

Butts addressed county commissioners Monday during their regular meeting at the County Courthouse annex, saying the office fully expected to reach the threshold. She explained that her office was still working on the required Disaster Summary Outline, and needed information from the City of Madisonville and the City of Midway.

County Judge Tony Leago indicated that the county would go ahead and make the declaration, which would give estimators a seven-day window to assesses damage and push back looming deadlines.

“We could buy ourselves some time,” Leago said.

So far, Butts told Commissioners, few individuals had applied for assistance with the county from storm damage.

“Although no major structural damage has been reported by citizens to us at the Emergency Operations Center, we are aware of several homes or mobile homes that were affected by trees or limbs,” she said later in the day. “Many of our residents were without power for several hours or days.

“We were fortunate that temperatures were favorable and rainfall didn’t linger in our area any longer than it did.”

County facilities were lightly damaged by the storms.

“Temporary repairs were done on an air conditioning unit atop the courthouse, and additional repairs will be needed on it. The switch for the generator at the annex will also be repaired or replaced, as we experienced problems with it during this weather event. “

Madison County joined eight other counties on a Gov. Greg Abbot-issued declaration of disaster April 17. The state declaration also included Cherokee, Freestone, Houston, Leon, Nacogdoches, San Augustine, Shelby, and Robertson counties.

“As a result of severe weather over the weekend, Texas is taking action to ensure those impacted have the resources they need to recover as quickly as possible,” Abbott said in a press release. “I thank all our first responders and local officials on the ground in these communities for their efforts to assist fellow Texans in the aftermath of these storms.”

Butts told Commissioners that the state doesn’t have the same threshold for counties as the counties themselves and has the ability to declare a disaster more freely.

In other moves Monday, Commissioners gave approval to spend $4,000 to help Moon River Ranch initiate a two-day event tied to the National Day of the Cowboy, celebrated annually on the fourth Saturday in July since 2005.

Rita Fanning of Moon River Ranch plans to incorporate trail rides and other events around the county courthouse July 27.

“I’m trying to get back to things we used to enjoy around here,” she said.

Commissioners also approved to give the Madison County branch of the NAACP $1,500 from Hotel/Motel Occupancy funds for advertising costs related to the group’s planned participation in the Hoop Dreams Basketball Tournament, a national youth-based three-on-three basketball tournament.

Leago told commissioners that a previous funding approval, for the NAACP bike ride, was unclaimed, as weather forced the cancellation of the ride. Commissioners approved $3,000 of the Hotel/Motel Occupancy funds March 11 to advertise the fated bike ride.

“That did not materialize, so those funds were not distributed,” he said.

Commissioners also approved a retroactive funding measure of $2,000 in advertising costs related to the 2019 Lone Star 5000 Coon Hunt, which took place in January.

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