County extends disaster declaration


Even though Madison County was not a part of the governor’s recent disaster declaration, the County Commissioner’s Court on Friday extended the county disaster declaration for an additional 30 days.

Commissioners unanimously approved the extension of the declaration, which was first posted in March after heavy rains fell.

Emergency Management Coordinator Shelly Butts said there was a clerical error at the state level, but efforts to correct that were being taken and Madison County should be added to Gov. Greg Abbott’s declaration.

The declaration extension was in response to heavy rains that fell in the county on May 26.

On Thursday, Commissioner Sam Cole said that work on Strawther Road bridge, which was damaged in the March 11 storm, is continuing.

Butts said that since then, the governor had issued a state declaration which at that time included Madison County. Officials also were waiting for a disaster declaration from FEMA, which would open up new avenues for funding.

“That didn’t come through until May 16,” she said. “We were able to begin the process with them.”

Prior to that, Cole said he was getting informal proposals for replacing the bridge.

“We’ve met with contractors, Texas Department of Transportation and the county engineer,” Cole said. “That’s where we stand.”

Cole said at one point, he asked to swap the bridge on Strawther Road for another one that TxDOT has approved funding for, but his request was declined because funds had already been spent for engineering and surveys.

He also said the county tried to erect temporary structures or roadways to allow landowners quick access to their property, but found those plans would not work.

“FEMA said temporary structures would change the flow of the channel, and denied the request,” Butts said. “We have to design a new bridge for FEMA to approve, and once that’s done, we get their approval and then we can go to bid on it.”

The design had to be redone, Cole said, because the current bridge was a World War II-era design, which also allowed it to be mobile.

Cole said that a bridge on Bundic Road, which has been funded for replacement by the state, is also awaiting work — not because of federal involvement, but because of the amount of bridge work needing done in the area that construction crews are backlogged.

One bright spot, Cole said, is that numerous people who live in the area are not cut off from emergency services and travel.

Cole said he hopes to hear from the state about Strawther Road within two weeks, and with an environmental study in the process, it shouldn’t take too long to begin letting bids for construction.

“We’re still plugging away on this,” he said.