FEDS ALLOCATE FUNDS FOR ST. JOHNS REPAIRS
Putnam County was awarded nearly $1.5 million Tuesday from the federal government to fund the design of improved drainage systems in Palatka to prevent flooding during heavy rains.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency awarded the grant to have the new and improved drainage systems constructed near St. Johns Avenue.
“The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program has approved $1,467,134 to help design, engineer, permit and put out to bid the project, which is expected to include an improved culvert system and a new stormwater retention pond,” FEMA said in a statement.
The funding does not authorize any construction, FEMA said, but is instead intended to produce a package of plans with permits that could be reviewed for possible additional funding later down the road.
“The project will be designed to provide protection against a 100-year rain event,” FEMA said. “The project includes a large 4-foot-by-8-foot box culvert that would replace the existing ditch collection system and concrete pipes that would feed stormwater into the proposed new pond.”
U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., said in a statement the grant addresses one of the county’s top needs. Improving Putnam’s infrastructure has been a focus for state and local leaders, he said, and he commends FEMA for taking action.
“There is a tremendous need to update and modernize the water infrastructure in Putnam County and has been, in fact, a top priority for the county commission and administration,” Yoho said. “In keeping with our Project Putnam goals, we are proud to support all infrastructure grant programs for the county to help modernize, reinforce and grow their critical infrastructure.”
Hazard Mitigation Grant Program funds have proven to be an important source of funding for communities affected by natural disasters, primarily because of the money it saves communities in the long term, FEMA said.
“A 2018 report from the National Institute of Building Sciences found that $1 spent on hazard mitigation will save more than $6 of recovery and rebuilding costs,” the agency said.
At about 4:45 p.m. Tuesday, County Administrator Terry Suggs said he hadn’t heard about the federal allocation and could not provide information about the grant by press time.
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said awarding the grant to Putnam is a boon for the community. Grants and projects for improving water infrastructure are imperative due to the damage caused from past natural disasters, he said.
“Hurricane Irma wreaked devastation across the state of Florida, and it is important that the federal government works with state and local leaders to ensure that our communities are well-prepared for future storms,” Rubio said in a statement. “I welcome these funds to Putnam County.”