Mattapoisett seeks FEMA funding to stop repeat repairs

By Georgia Sparling | Jan 29, 2013
Photo by: Georgia Sparling Hurricane Sandy brought waves crashing over Mattapoisett’s historic wharves, which exacerbated problems caused by age and other storms.

Mattapoisett — When coastal storms plow into Mattapoisett Harbor, they often take a piece of the town with it.

Reoccurring damage from such storms has taken its toll on wharves, harbors, and other town property. Now the town is looking for a way to fix the problem before another super storm hits.

“Mattapoisett, when it comes to hurricanes and potential storm surges, is a very vulnerable location,” said Town Administrator Mike Gagne.

Gagne is working to identify some of the damage prone areas of town through a $39,000 Hazard Mitigation Grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The town will use funds that were allocated from FEMA for damage Mattapoisett incurred during 2011’s Tropical Storm Irene.

“What is the risk associated with those locations, what are the severity of damages associated because of those problem areas, and what is the priority to remedy those,” said Gagne.

Before developing a list of priorities, a planning team will be organized, a FEMA representative will review possible projects, and residents will have a few opportunities to weigh in.

The $39,000 grant will cover the two-year process, which includes determining the cost of the potential projects. Once the damage-prone areas are identified, Mattapoisett officials will seek additional funding from FEMA to complete the necessary repairs.

Gagne said the historic piers and a section of Mattapoisett Neck Road that often floods are contenders for the list.

And the possible grant money is no small change, said Gagne.

A number of towns in the state have already received funding, including $506,000 for drainage repairs in Concord, and $391,000 for a culvert project in Westford.

With the grants, Gagne said, “They’re trying to break the cycle of FEMA continually paying for repairs. They would rather pay Mattapoisett a certain amount of money to stop roads from washing out every hurricane.”

Gagne is hopeful that Mattapoisett’s projects will get onto FEMA’s priority list. While that is a few years down the line, the town is likely to see relieve funds from last fall’s Hurricane Sandy sooner.

The town incurred upwards of $89,000 in expenses related to the storm. Plymouth County was declared eligible to apply for support from the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency in December. Along with Mattapoisett, Marion and Rochester officials are finalizing the paperwork necessary to seek reimbursement.

“I got nervous because we had expended quite a bit of money,” said Gagne at a recent Selectmen meeting.

The funding, 75 percent of which will come from FEMA and 25 percent from MEMA, can go towards emergency preparations made in anticipation of the storm as well as damages incurred as a result of it.

Police Chief Mary Lyons said, “That includes payroll expense for two days preparation for the storm, payroll and equipment during the storm, and clean up expenses after the storm.”

Last week Gagne and other officials met with FEMA representatives to discuss reimbursements.

He said the town has six months to apply for emergency work, and 18 months for long-term repairs.

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