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Palm Coast Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017 2 months ago

Nor'easter rains strain Palm Coast's utility systems, finances

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The city spent about $500,000 on tanker trucks to pump down its stormwater system after a nor'easter dropped 14 inches of rain.
by: Jonathan Simmons News Editor

Palm Coast's utility fund many be more stressed by last week's rains than by the rain dropped during Hurricane Irma. 

"This has been unprecedented for this utility," Utility Director Richard Adams told Palm Coast City Council members at an Oct. 10 council workshop. "We’ve never experience this kind of surcharge in our system all these years."

For Irma, the city can seek reimbursement from FEMA. But it can't do that for the nor'easter that dropped 14 inches of water on already-saturated ground.

"The huge difference is it wasn’t a declared emergency," City Manager Jim Landon said at the workshop. "And so FEMA won't even think about reimbursing us for, right now, what we're estimating to be half a million dollars just in tanker trucks."

The city has had 18 tanker trucks out pumping down water, and all but three are rented.

Mayor Milissa Holland asked Landon if the nor'easter's proximity to the hurricane might allow for FEMA reimbursement, since the nor'easter might not have cost the city as much as it did had it not occurred right after the hurricane had soaked the ground.

"We will certainly work on that," Landon said. But he called it "unlikely."

The water table remains at about ground level, so even small amounts of rain, like the the two inches that fell on Sunday, Oct. 8, have led the city to send the tankers out again. 

Debris pickup 

Palm Coast will be done picking up debris from Hurricane Irma by sometime around Thanksgiving.

The hold-up isn't manpower. It's equipment.

"Local resources are still what we have to use at this point, because Irma impacted the whole state," Landon said. "We are still looking for outside resources, and they’re starting to loosen up. We're not getting a flat 'no' anymore."

Pickup is proceeding six days a week, and the debris is being deposited at the Environmental Land Services site on U.S. 1. The volume is so high that each truck that enters to deposit debris has about a 35-40 minute wait, Landon said. 

The city has created a website designed to show residents its storm debris pickup progress. Go to palmcoastgov.com/newsroom/2017/9/21/3819/post-hurricane-irma-debris-cleanup-information.

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