Washington County

Posted: Aug 13, 2019 2:21 PMUpdated: Aug 13, 2019 2:42 PM

Program Managers Could Come to Local Communities

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Garrett Giles

The scope and the magnitude of the flooding event last May that went well into June has created a situation that changes reporting procedures after an emergency.

Washington County Commissioner Mitch Antle explains some of the changes that the County and the Federal Emergency Management Agency will have to pick up. He said they used to look at County-wide damages all at once. Now, damages are being looked at by community.

According to Commissioner Antle, Bartlesville will have a "Program Manager" for each project (a damaged area where repairs have been made). Dewey, Ochelata, Vera, Ramona and surrounding communities in the area and throughout the State of Oklahoma will see Project Managers from FEMA pop-up. Instead of one report for the whole County and checks as the come in, different entities will handle their own projects and project manager.

Commissioner Antle said this will be the first year that all paperwork will be done electronically. Local paperwork will be scanned and uploaded into a portal. From the portal, he said they will be able to manage the process all the way through.

Payments can be tracked from start to finish. On the money management side, the process should be cleaner and the County should see those funds coming in that are directly related to one specific area so they can put those monies in the appropriate accounts. It should help the County from the audit side as well.

Commissioner Antle said nothing moves quickly though. There is a typical turnaround of about 18-months from when they expend funds to make emergency repairs to when they receive it. He hopes it will be a shorter process with the new system, but he hesitates to be optimistic.

Last week, FEMA and Washington County held a kick-off meeting so the County could be aware of the changes. Commissioner Antle said they have an exploratory call coming where their Program Manager specific to the County will call in. Then they will move in on individual repairs that have been made throughout the County.

The County said it is being as conscientious as they can with tax payer dollars. Commissioner Antle said they want to recover what they can in County in terms of Public Assistance on the Federal level following this year's disaster.

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