Baltimore County to get a total of $1.3 million from FEMA for flood and storm recovery

Twenty-three projects in Baltimore County have been obligated for a federal share of more than $1.295 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), an agency spokesperson confirmed in an email.

Howard County and Baltimore County have, in total, been obligated more than $4.63 million from FEMA, in aid related to the May 2018 flooding and storm that killed a national guardsman, devastated historic Ellicott City and flooded hundreds of homes in Catonsville and Oella.

“It was amazing the amount of damage done, so I’m glad to see some relief and a lot of effort under way to continue to fix it up,” said Tom Quirk, the county council chairman and representative for Baltimore County’s first district.

In Catonsville, that FEMA money means contractors can begin working on restoring the #9 Trolley Line Trail, which was closed off in late September because of heavy rains in August that exacerbated damage after the late May flooding. Work is slated to begin the week of March 11, according to a letter sent to Quirk’s office.

Quirk, who lives in Oella, said that when the trail was fully opened, he used it “almost every day, no exaggeration.”

“So I’ll be glad when that is back up. It’s good news,” he said.

The trail boardwalk work is being funded by more than $173,000 from FEMA, according to an email from the agency. The #9 Trolley Line, for which the trail is named, connected Ellicott City and Catonsville in 1899 and operated for about 55 years. It was converted into a walking and biking path in 1991 as part of an Eagle Scout project.

The construction scheduled calls for the trail be remain closed for about three months. It should re-open in late June “once the safety components are addressed,” according to the letter.

Baltimore County is getting federal funding for a number of other projects, according to an email from FEMA.

  • $261,182.85 for a sewer line washout under Frederick Road
  • $55,223.69 for storm drain inlet washouts
  • $6,396.90 for emergency protective measures along Thistle Road and Old Frederick Road
  • $15,846.19 for a washed out baseball diamond
  • $10,598.61 for road paving at the Spring Grove Hospital Center
  • $97,865.22 for roads that were buckled or washed out

As a condition of the public assistance program, Baltimore County must match 25 percent of the FEMA funding. For the $10,600 at Spring Grove, for example, Baltimore County will have to put up about $2,650 toward the work.

While the money will come from FEMA, it may not instantly go to the county’s coffers. The funds go through the Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA), said Jay Ringgold, director of emergency management in Baltimore County. MEMA then distributes the money to counties. In some instances — for example, repairing a buckled or washed out road — that may mean the county is getting reimbursed by the federal government for work already completed.

“The county is going to make every effort to restore the community back to normalcy,” Ringgold said.

Baltimore County did not, however, qualify to receive FEMA money for individual assistance for damage done to homes or businesses. Ringgold said between 400 and 500 homes experienced some flooding because of the storms in late May, but that fell short of the threshold for federal assistance.

“To qualify for [individual assistance], you have to have a whole lot of homes that are really devastated,” Ringgold said.

Only one home in Baltimore County was temporarily deemed unsafe for habitation, and no homes were damaged above a 40 percent threshold set by FEMA for individual assistance.

cboteler@baltsun.com

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