FEMA Gives City $3 Million
Cash Helps Lebanon Repair Slayton Hill
Lebanon — City officials — and taxpayers — got some hoped-for good news Friday as the Federal Emergency Management Agency committed to award Lebanon $3.3 million to help repair Slayton Hill Road, which was washed out by flooding last summer.
But the federal disaster relief, which was announced by New Hampshire’s Congressional delegation late Friday, is only part of the funding needed to rebuild and repair up to $10 million in damage across the city.
City Manager Greg Lewis said Lebanon had applied to FEMA for $3.3 million in relief for the Slayton Hill project, but is also waiting to hear from the federal agency about applications totaling at least $1.1 million to repair Storrs Hill and infrastructure at Lebanon Municipal Airport.
The city already has been told that some significant damage to city roads at Dulac Street Extension and Tannery Lane, costing about $1.4 million to repair, don’t qualify for FEMA aid.
Dozens of Lebanon roads were damaged in early July when more than 4 inches of rain fell over a 48-hour period.
Among other projects is a $650,000 replacement of a “sewer interceptor” in West Lebanon that also failed during summer flooding. That, too, was deemed ineligible for FEMA funding, but the city has a commitment from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to get $242,000 from an emergency watershed protection program, Lewis said.
“It is good news, but as always with good news, there’s bad news,” Lewis said of the FEMA award. “The bad news is the total costs that we are projecting for fixing these items is getting close to $10 million.”
Repairing and upgrading Slayton Hill Road alone is expected to cost $6.4 million, Lewis said, and FEMA won’t cover all those costs.
“We’re trying to reconstruct it not to its previous condition, but to reconstruct it to a condition that will resist future weather events,” Lewis said. “FEMA will only (pay to) construct to its current condition.”
Lewis said the City Council will be holding public hearings in the coming weeks to discuss various projects and financing, which is likely to involve debt financing.
“We have plans to be able to finance this, we have it all planned out, but it has to be deliberated and the public has to weigh in,” Lewis said.
The FEMA money was announced Friday in a bipartisan press release from U.S. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Kelly Ayotte and U.S. Reps. Carol Shea-Porter and Annie Kuster, along with $4.7 million to Lincoln, N.H., for bridge damages caused by Tropical Storm Irene in August 2011.
“These New Hampshire communities have been devastated by severe storms and are still in need of assistance to rebuild,” the lawmakers said in a joint press release. “This assistance will support critical rebuilding efforts in both Lincoln and Lebanon.”