Ice storm cost county more than $350K

Published 6:00 am Wednesday, March 31, 2021

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Charlotte County officials hope to receive federal assistance to help with funding costs associated with the Valentine’s weekend storm that left thousands without power and tons of debris behind.

Charlotte County Administrator Dan Witt said the February ice storm has cost the county $356,953 in cleanup to date.

That includes county costs, volunteer hours, fire department costs, and town costs.

Daniel Witt

According to Witt, funds were used for overtime costs, canopies for food distribution, eight chainsaws for the fire departments and county staff, some prepared food for the incident management team, and generator fuel costs. 

Witt said funds to cover the February ice storm costs came from the county’s general fund.

In order to receive funding help, Witt said the commonwealth had to exceed $12 million in expenses to meet the threshold for a federal disaster declaration, which it has. 

“However, the president must make the declaration, which he hasn’t done and is required for assistance with the costs, which are typically 75/25%.” Witt said.   

The $356,953 in cleanup cost does not include the Virginia Department of Transportation’s (VDOT) costs associated with the storm.

“VDOT will only pick up debris that came down in their right of way, both in the towns and rest of the county,” Witt said. “VDOT is not picking up woody debris that came from private property. If VDOT looks at the debris and it appears that most or all fell in the right of way, they pick it up.  If it appears that it was moved into the right of way from private property, VDOT is not removing it. 

Witt said property owners are responsible for removing their own debris.

“If the Board of Supervisors directs staff to contract to have the debris removed from private property, it will be at the county’s expense and without reimbursement,” Witt said.

Lynchburg District Communications Manager Paula Jones said VDOT still does not have a final cost of the cleanup expenses for Charlotte County as work is still being done.

“There has been and continues to be significant debris removal in Charlotte County,” Jones said.

Work in the area has been completed by VDOT employees from the residency and crews from the Appomattox Residency and hired contractors. It is quite an undertaking, and the work is expected to last for at least the next month, if not longer. There are thousands of cubic yards of debris to be removed.”