Maryland is eligible for federal aid after President Barack Obama declared Thursday that damage from the June derecho qualified as a major disaster.
Six local jurisdictions, including Montgomery County, are seeking reimbursement for the $17 million total they spent in the wake of the quick-hitting June 29 storm.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency pays up to 75 percent of the uninsured costs to state and local governments for response and cleanup from such a storm, including debris removal, overtime pay and the expense of running cooling centers, said Ed McDonough, spokesman for the Maryland Emergency Management Agency.
At its peak, the derecho knocked out power to more than 1 million electricity users in Maryland. The storm hit during an intense heat wave.
Besides Montgomery, the five jurisdictions eligible for reimbursement in Maryland are Baltimore city and Charles, Calvert, Kent and St. Mary’s counties, McDonough said. Montgomery County cited the largest costs, at $10.3 million, McDonough said.
Each county has to meet a different minimum cost threshold, based on population, to qualify for federal assistance, McDonough said.
FEMA generally does not disclose the threshold counties must meet, according to Peter Herrick, spokesman for the agency.
During the storm and its aftermath, police in Montgomery logged more than 2,100 hours of overtime. Five police stations ran on generators, according to the county’s Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security.
At the peak, 550 of 800 county traffic signals, 31 of 34 nursing homes, 14 of 20 county libraries and both Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission water treatment plants were without power. The county also opened three cooling centers, where 1,117 meals and 1,588 snacks were served, officials said.
The state’s overall estimate — which includes costs from local governments as well as state agencies located within those counties — included $4.5 million for Baltimore city, $1.2 million for Charles County, $414,000 for St. Mary’s County and $69,000 for Kent County, McDonough said.
Kent County officials still are calculating their total costs, which largely consist of overtime pay for tree removal and road maintenance, said Wayne Barrell, the county’s director of emergency services.
Counties will be able to request additional funds if they continue to see their costs increase, McDonough said.
Based on previous FEMA requests, such as those made after Hurricane Irene last year, Maryland could receive reimbursement within six months to a year, McDonough said.
So far, FEMA has paid Maryland about $33.8 million, or about 75 percent of the eligible cost for damage from Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, he said.
Calvert County’s costs ran about $465,000, approximately 80 percent of which were costs incurred by the Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative, said John Robert Fenwick, chief of the county’s Emergency Management and Safety Division.
“Public Works was out clearing roads in response to the storm, and there was extra law enforcement on the roads,” Fenwick said. “We came out that night and the next day to ensure everything we could do was being done.”
Prince George’s County saw about $7.3 million in damage from both the derecho and a microburst — a short, intense burst of strong winds that was accompanied by rain and hail — that struck the Bladensburg and Hyattsville areas June 22.
Prince George’s has not requested federal aid because much of the damage to public property is covered by insurance, said Scott Peterson, a county government spokesman.
Federal aid already has been approved for Virginia, where storm cleanup efforts cost state and local governments more than $27 million, as well as for West Virginia, Ohio and the District of Columbia.
Staff writers Kate Alexander and Alan J. McCombs contributed to this report.