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Washington County

Posted: Nov 25, 2019 3:02 PMUpdated: Nov 25, 2019 4:09 PM

Cox Presents FEMA State and Local Agreement

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Garrett Giles

Washington County Emergency Management's Executive Director Kary Cox presented a Federal Emergency Management Agency State and Local Agreement on Monday to the County Commissioners.

Due to recent audits by FEMA, they are requiring Oklahoma Emergency Management (OEM) to have an agreement with every local jurisdiction that is filing for disaster funds after last spring's historic flooding. In his interpretations, Cox said it is an agreement to put the governing body (the Washington County Commissioners) on notice that the State of Oklahoma would be administering disaster funds and will be filing for disaster funds on behalf of Washington County with FEMA.

This may be because OEM may have had some difficult in closing out disasters in the past. Cox said Oklahoma still has disaster projects dating back to 2014, if not later. He said FEMA's goal is to make sure that the disasters get closed out - and final payments made - in two years.

All this insight from Cox was gained thanks to a FEMA audit Washington County Emergency Management volunteered for last spring. With that in mind, Cox added that he did not see anything in the agreement that changes that way Washington County would do business with OEM in terms of how they handle disasters. He said it opens the door for the county to have more leverage downstream.

As far as the flooding disaster goes, Cox said they are waiting on FEMA to get the final grouping of projects done. He said they will then have to get the EEI's (Essential Elements of Information) for each project, which involves plugging in hours, equipment hours, equipment types, materials and etc. into their project divisions.

It will be requested by Cox that all three districts be separated when it comes to the project process. District 1 Commissioner Mitch Antle said all three districts tracked down the activities in their respected area during the flood event. He said they now have to put all that data into one, big damage inventory.

From there, all three districts in Washington County would have to take all that information and cluster it into projects. Once they add that all up, they submit the information and FEMA cuts the County a check. It is then the responsibility of the Washington County Treasurer Melissa Thornbrugh to divvy up that paycheck by district so the proper funds are being spent in the places that need it most.

That will happen unless Cox and Washington County Emergency Management can convince FEMA to allow them to work by individual district and not as a collective. Commissioner Antle said this could save them a headache in the future.

The FEMA State and Local Agreement would be accepted by the Washington County Commissioners.

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