If that seems like a long time to wait, consider what’s involved. First, it’s a big job, too big for most individuals to tackle, especially with heavy equipment in great demand and short supply. Second, homeowners who cleared their own lots would have to foot the bill themselves, but if they participate in the federal program, the local government will get the work done and have the cost reimbursed. The Federal Emergency Management Agency will pay for up to 90 percent of the cost and the state will pick up the remaining 10 percent.
That’s worth waiting for, but the tradeoff is dealing with every level of bureaucracy.
The county hired the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to clear the debris from public property, and with resolutions by the County Commission and the Moody City Council late last week the corps can also do the work on private property in specified areas — if the property owner agrees in writing.
The County Commission had to declare the debris in the Shoal Creek Valley a public nuisance and health hazard so that its removal would qualify for “Operation Clean Sweep,” the federal cost share program. Moody had to do the same thing.
Now it’s up to the homeowners to sign off on the right-of-entry forms that will allow the Corps of Engineers to come onto the property and take away the splintered buildings.
After so much waiting, time is running short to get the forms signed. The deadline for getting approval for the program is June 12, although some local officials are hoping that the date will be extended for a few weeks.
Even with the right of entry secured, the waiting could continue because the local resolutions constitute requests for federal approval, and acceptance into Operation Clean Sweep is not automatic.
As much as residents need to pick up the pieces and start rebuilding their lives, the best they can do at this point is sign the form, then hurry up and wait a bit longer.