Flood costs won’t be cheap in Hannibal

Danny Henley

While no one at city hall in Hannibal knows what the final cost will be that has been incurred battling the flood of 2008, it is a safe bet it won’t be cheap.

Angel Zerbonia, Hannibal city clerk, estimated that the cost has already topped $50,000.

“There will be extensive labor costs that have not been turned in yet,” she said, who had yet to see a bill for all the sand that was brought in to fill the sandbags that were used to raise the downtown floodwall early last week.

Another significant expense will be for overtime hours logged by the police, fire, parks and street departments, and Board of Public Works.

Last week, Congressman Kenny Hulshof called on President Bush to provide expedited federal disaster assistance to Missouri to assist those impacted by the flooding in Northeast Missouri. On Wednesday, Gov. Matt Blunt, during a visit to Hannibal said he was hopeful and optimistic that Missouri will be included in any disaster declaration issued from the White House.

City Manager Jeff LaGarce is hopeful that the city will be able to recoup some of the money it will be paying out in the days and weeks ahead.

“We’re hoping that we can reimburse all the emergency costs through FEMA. That is our hope,” he said. “Every year we budget our basic emergency management costs, so what we’re going to be doing is basically borrowing from Peter to pay Paul. We’re hoping that we’ll be reimbursed.”

LaGarce stressed that while the downtown flood wall has held, Hannibal has still been impacted by the flood.

“We’ve expended a lot of time, resources and money doing a significant amount of work to prevent damage from occurring,” he said. “There are a lot of communities that are sustaining damage and we’ve sustained damage here in Hannibal as well. You can go down to Warren Barrett Drive and see it. There have been homes and businesses effected.”

The city manager expressed his appreciation for all the effort that was put in to protecting Hannibal.

“I’m very thankful for all the volunteers, all the business people and residents that have come forward to help us build this flood wall up and reinforce it, fill sandbags, and do all the work that’s necessary to prevent a significant amount of damage from occurring in our community,” he said.

On Thursday, the U.S. House overwhelmingly approved nearly $2.7 billion in emergency flood aid. That bill now goes to the Senate.

Hannibal Courier-Post