For the last couple of months, Bellefonte officials were unsure whether they’d ever be able to adequately fix the storm damage on West Lamb Street from late June.
But they received good news Wednesday.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency originally denied the statewide request for federal money to fix the street damages, but a successful appeal from the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency yielded the presidential declaration that the six local municipalities were seeking.
The storms between June 26 and July 11 caused about $1.8 million in damage to local infrastructure. The bulk of the destruction in Centre County occurred in Bellefonte, State College and Howard boroughs, and Liberty, Gregg and Howard townships.
Included in the report is about $1 million in damage to the SEDA-COG Joint Rail Authority railroads.
Of the six municipalities, Bellefonte was hit hardest, with more than $250,000 in damage to the infrastructure under and on West Lamb Street. Stormwater flooded the area, causing the storm drainage system to collapse under the street in sections and the pavement to ripple.
“It’s a pretty big deal, because otherwise we probably weren’t going to be able to go back and fix Lamb Street properly,” Bellefonte Assistant Manager Don Holderman said.
Holderman said the price tag would have been too high to completely fix the drainage system, and that the pavement would have been at risk in the future. He said that the project would cost the borough about two full years of street-paving funding.
With the federal government paying for about 75 percent of the damage, Holderman said they should be able to fix it correctly and prevent it from happening again.
“Certainly it will help us fix the problem for the long term,” he said.
Usually with disaster relief, the federal government picks up about 75 percent of the tab and the state funds the remainder, but Randy Rockey, Centre County EMA director, said that at this point, he hasn’t heard anything from the state in terms of funding.
FEMA officials will meet with the county and the affected parties before determining a course of action and timetable for the process moving forward.
The funding also will address damage in Clearfield, Clinton, Crawford, Fayette, Huntingdon, Jefferson, Lawrence, Venango and Wayne counties, but it will not cover damage sustained by individual homeowners.
Rockey said that the news is a big win locally and across the state.
“It’s great for those municipalities and authorities that had some severe impacts,” he said.