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Watauga Commissioners Agree to Sponsor Flood-damaged Projects For Locals To Acquire Federal Dollars

By Jesse Wood

March 6, 2013. Did you incur flood damage that still isn’t repaired and is a threat to both life and property? Then, you might be eligible for federal assistance. 

Under the Emergency Watershed Protection program, the Watauga County Board of Commissioners agreed to sponsor flood-damaged projects in need of repair due to the heavy rains in late January – if the beneficiaries of the federally-funded projects pay the required 25 percent cost of the total project.

Projects allowed under the EWP program include, but are not limited to: 

  • Debris-clogged stream channels
  • Undermined and unstable stream banks
  • Landslides and debris flows that impair or threaten watershed function
  • Jeopardized water control structures and public infrastructures
  • Wind-borne debris removal
The Jan. 30 flood was one of the worst in recent history in Watauga. This is the Boone Shopping Mall.  Photo by Ken Ketchie
The Jan. 30 flood was one of the worst in recent history in Watauga. This is the Boone Shopping Mall. Photo by Ken Ketchie

Brian Chatham, soil conservation technician with the department of Watauga County Soil and Water, told the board that him and Emegency Management Coordinator Steve Suddretth, and Planning and Inspections Director Joe Furman have identified a few projects that may be eligible for the EWP funds.

“Most of the calls I’ve fielded have been driveways, disgruntled landowners whose culvert washed out the driveway,” Chatham said, adding that those driveway and culvert projects and damaged structures do not qualify for the EWP funds – nor does damage that has already been repaired. 

EWP is an assistance program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. All storm debris and repairs of damage are not eligible. According to the program’s website, “all projects must reduce threats to life and property.”

Through the program, the NRCS may pay up to 75 percent of the approved projects while the 25 percent is left to the sponsor – which is a legal subdivision of the state, such as a state agency, county, city, town, soil and water conservation district or Indian tribe.

However, the local board of commissioners only agreed to sponsor a project if the landowner foots the remaining 25 percent cost.

The EWP project sponsor is responsible for providing land rights to do repair work, securing necessary permits, furnishing the local cost share, accomplishing the installation work and performing any necessary operation and maintenance, according to documents outlining the EWP program.

After a potential project has been identified, an NCRS employee will conduct a Damage Survey Report. The project’s eligible will only receive repairs equal to pre-storm conditions. 

In order to be considered for EWP assistance, the county must send a letter requesting the funds to the NCRS State Conservationist by 5 p.m. on April 1, 2013.

On Tuesday, the board of commissioners agreed to send a letter to the NCRS stating that it may have flood-damaged projects forthcoming that are eligible for the federal dollars.

For more information, click to http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/national/programs/financial/ewp/?cid=nrcs143_008230