Forecast on federal funding cloudy for Centre County’s storm-affected municipalities

The six Centre County municipalities seeking federal funding to repair storm damage may have to start looking elsewhere.

There has been no resolution on a Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency appeal after the funding was denied last month. Gov. Tom Corbett recently sent a letter to President Barack Obama reiterating the need for the federal money in Pennsylvania.

But Centre County Emergency Management Agency Director Randy Rockey is not optimistic that the aid will be arriving.

Rockey has not heard any encouraging updates from PEMA, which sought money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Rockey said he remains hopeful, but doubtful.

“I personally do not have high hopes of seeing anything approved,” he said.

The local municipalities that were affected by the storm are Bellefonte, State College and Howard as well as Liberty, Gregg and Howard townships.

The damage to the municipalities totaled about $1.8 million, primarily from the June 27 storm.

FEMA initially denied the request last month for assistance for the state’s 14 affected counties, saying the damage was not done during a single weather event and the area was damaged by multiple storms.

In his letter to Obama, Corbett said the damage was done over the same “weather regime” lasting from June 22 through July 25.

Bellefonte Borough Manager Ralph Stewart said officials are starting to look at other ways to fund the $250,000 in damages to West Lamb Street. The storms caused the borough drainage system to collapse beneath the road in sections, and a new storm drain must be installed.

“The worst case scenario is we fund those repairs locally,” he said.

That would be an action that needs to be taken relatively quickly, streets committee chairman Paul DeCusati said at a recent Borough Council meeting.

He said another heavy storm could cause even more extensive damage and continue to drive the price tag up.

“It has got to be repaired,” DeCusati said. “We can’t leave that.”