Focus shifts to recovering financially from winter storm - KTEN.com - No One Gets You Closer

Focus shifts to recovering financially from winter storm

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GRAYSON COUNTY -- As ice continues to melt and road conditions improve, Grayson County leaders are now shifting focus to the financial recovery.

Grayson County Commissioners called a special session following their regular weekly meeting Tuesday to discuss whether to extend a local disaster declaration.

County Judge Drue Bynum signed the declaration on Sunday which by law expires after seven days.

"I recommended to the court that we would be able to take care of all the emergency protective actions within that seven days and that they not continue it past that time," Grayson County Office of Emergency Management Director Sarah Somers said.

County Commissioners agreed voting unanimously not to extend the disaster declaration.

But, recovery efforts are far from over.

Making the declaration begins a long, formal process to gain access to state and FEMA funding.

Grayson County OEM and State Representative Larry Phillips say much of the work in the months to come will be trying to secure that funding to cover repair costs which were not anticipated and therefore, not included in the County's budget.

"We may even have to go to Washington and say what's happened here deserves a federal declaration so that we'll have access to some additional funds," Rep. Phillips said. "But, that's what we're going to do. We're going to fight for the citizens of our community."

But as local leaders transition into recovery mode, TxDOT continues their response on the roads.

With many major highways cleared, crews are now scraping smaller streets and overpasses and are working on roadways they say they haven't yet had a chance to treat.

Four full days after the storm, and drivers on FM 120 are just now able to go at a normal pace. TxDOT crews spent the day using plows to clear the way.

Right now, repairs to roads and bridges are expected to exceed $5 million. However, Somers says that amount could change as melting ice begins to give a clear view of all the damage.

"We make estimates now and then we'll go through a formal process to identify exactly what the costs were," Somers said.

"This is a, hopefully, once in a 25 year ice storm," Rep. Phillips said. "I've never seen a storm like this in our community."

Somers also discussed "after-action reviews" during Tuesday's session. She says the reviews will happen during the coming weeks, too, to look at what was done well during the emergency response and where improvement may be needed on both a state and local level.