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Greencastle To Seek Help From State Emergency Relief Fund

State officials will meet with cities affected by floods earlier this spring to see if they qualify for state funding to pay for infrastructure repairs.

Greencastle city hall sign

Photo: Dan Goldblatt

Greencastle suffered from what residents say is the worst flooding they have seen in 45 years earlier this spring.

The Indiana Department of Homeland Security is meeting with Greencastle city officials this week to see whether the city qualifies for state funding to help pay for flood damage.

Putnam County experienced floods this spring that residents say were the worst they have seen in 45 years. But, statewide flooding was not severe enough to receive grants from the federal government.

Greencastle Mayor Sue Murray says erosion from the bank of the Big Walnut Creek and damage to a well and water treatment plant that provides water to a large part of Putnam County required the city to act immediately without waiting for outside funding.

“The city incurred those costs initially. Our insurance has denied those thus far, and any relief from that would be welcome,” Murray says. “It ended up costing us. It was somewhere between $26,000 and $29,000 to do those repairs.”

The Indiana Department of Homeland Security will be holding meetings this week to help municipalities recoup their losses from an disaster relief fund the state is making available to 16 counties.

IDHS spokesperson John Erickson says his agency plans to meet with local leaders and help them apply for grant funding. He says while private property owners cannot receive assistance, there is money available for repairing public infrastructure:

“For instance, replacement or repair, restoration of roads, sewer systems, other public property infrastructure. Another large expense that communities have in this type of situation is debris removal, and that’s a qualifying expense as well,” Erickson says.

Fees from retail fireworks sales provide the funding for the state disaster relief fund. While last year’s drought and the subsequent ban on fireworks in many areas may have depleted the fund, Erickson says this years’ sales and the money they contribute to the state fund are back on track.

“Last year the state of Indiana had 437 permits for fireworks vendors – and that’s for all of 2012,” Erickson says. “For this first half of 2013, we’ve had more than 800 permits.”

Only a handful of states have emergency relief funds in place. Indiana’s was established in 2003.

Jimmy Jenkins

Jimmy Jenkins is a multimedia journalist for WFIU and WTIU news. A native of Terre Haute, he is a masters student at the Indiana University School of Journalism and is proud to be a part of the public broadcasting stations he listened to and watched since he was a child. Follow him on Twitter @newsjunkyjimmy.

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