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The Federal Emergency Management Agency announced Thursday that disaster aid had been made available to six Maryland jurisdictions, including Charles County, to help pay for recovery efforts in areas hit hard by severe storms during an intense heat wave in late June and early July.
The funding covers storms that occurred between June 29 and July 8, including the quick-hitting storm, known as a derecho, that slammed into the region June 29.
FEMA pays up to 75 percent of uninsured expenses incurred by state and local governments during the response to and cleanup from such storms, including debris removal, overtime pay and the cost of running cooling centers, said Ed McDonough, spokesman for the Maryland Emergency Management Agency.
Charles County requested a total of $1.6 million, but only $100,000 was incurred by the local government while responding to the derecho, Charles County Chief of Emergency Management Michelle Lilly said.
Those costs include overtime for county workers who cleared debris and ran damage assessments, provisions of water and ice for those without power, extra staff to handle 911 calls, and estimates from the town of Indian Head, Charles County Sheriff’s Office and the county’s volunteer fire departments, Lilly said.
The remaining $1.5 million was spent system-wide by the Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative on various aspects of power restoration, including overtime pay for its workers and hiring additional contract crews, spokesman Tom Dennison said.
The co-op did not have a breakdown of damage in each Southern Maryland jurisdiction, but “I think it’s fair to say that the vast majority of the damage was in Charles County,” Dennison said.
At its peak, nearly 62,000 SMECO customers were without power at 2:30 a.m. June 30, including 36,760 in Charles County. More than 1 million lost power statewide.
Lilly said the county’s “fast and quick” estimate was needed to determine whether it met FEMA’s threshold for public assistance. In fiscal year 2012, Maryland must suffer $3.39 in damage per capita in order to qualify, meaning Charles County’s estimated damage must be $496,808 or more, according to a MEMA chart.
The county did not meet the required amount of damage to receive assistance aid for individual homeowners, Lilly said.
Statewide, the five counties — which in addition to Charles include Calvert, St. Mary’s, Montgomery and Kent — and Baltimore city are asking for a total of $17 million, McDonough said.
Counties will be able to request additional funds if they continue to see their costs increase. Based on previous FEMA requests, such as those made after Hurricane Irene last year, the state could receive reimbursement within six months to a year, he said.
So far, FEMA has paid the state about $33.8 million, or about 75 percent of the eligible cost for damage from Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, McDonough said.
Federal aid already has been approved for Virginia, where storm cleanup efforts cost state and local governments more than $27 million, as well as for West Virginia, Ohio and Washington, D.C.
Staff writer Daniel Leaderman contributed to this report.