Fort Worth

February 4, 2014

Tarrant unlikely to be reimbursed for ice storm costs

Texas’ request for a federal disaster declaration does not include Tarrant County.

The cost of the December ice storm that brought Tarrant County to a standstill likely won’t be enough to qualify for federal emergency disaster reimbursement, officials said Tuesday.

The preliminary damage assessment of $2.9 million, a total for all governmental entities in the county, isn’t high enough to qualify, Tonya Hunter, the county’s emergency management coordinator, said Tuesday.

“The county threshold is $6.4 million,” Hunter said.

Each county’s threshold varies based on population.

The state submitted a federal disaster declaration request Jan. 21, which is still under review, FEMA spokeswoman Jacqueline Chandler said.

While Tarrant County’s assessment will count toward the overall state total, it will not be one of the counties eligible for reimbursement. Those are Collin, Cooke, Delta, Fannin, Grayson, Hood, Hunt, Kaufman, Lamar, Palo Pinto, Parker and Red River.

On Thursday, President Barack Obama issued a disaster declaration for Oklahoma from the same winter storm.

Tarrant County administrators compiled expenses from 41 municipalities that identified damage, injuries and emergency money spent. Hospitals, colleges, utilities, airlines and other organizations eligible for reimbursement also submitted expenses.

The county’s own storm-related costs were only $145,000, Hunter said.

Fort Worth spent $940,136, according to a report presented at Tuesday’s pre-council work session. City crews sanded roads continually during the December storm, spending $427,393. Other departments that incurred costs included water, police and fire.

Other entities that submitted costs to the county included Arlington, $183,420; Colleyville, $61,122; and Dallas/Fort Worth Airport, $1.5 million.

Denton and Dallas counties also did not qualify for reimbursement, according to the county report.

The ice storm shows that many governmental entities need to do more to document their emergency costs, Hunter said.

“The need to capture costs is certainly a lesson learned every time we get one of these winter storms or some other type of disaster, like a tornado,” Hunter said.

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