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July 6--  The good news is that the City of Vidalia has repaired all but one of the six roads damaged last year by Hurricane Irma.  The bad news is the city is still waiting on the federal government to pay for the lion's share of the repairs.

McLendon Enterprises has embarked on  a $421,000 city contract for the project and has yet to request payment.  That's good because so far the city has received only $140,000 from the state of Georgia and is still waiting for $366,477.50 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Damage from Irma caused the city to close Kissingbower, Darby Circle, Rocky Creek Road, Stella Drive, Clydette Boulevard and Lewis Drive.

Vidalia City Manager Nick Overstreet reports, "We've done work on all the roads except for Lewis Drive.  They are open and passable for travel except  for right now on Stella Drive because they're still working on it." 

The holdup on Lewis Drive is a bureaucratic glitch because the road is listed on the FEMA data base as a state connector road while Vidalia claims it as a city street.  Overstreet says the city has asked Congressman Rick Allen to expedite a clarification through the bureaucracy so funding can be released.

In addition to the initial repairs, the contractor will return for final paving and installation of head walls around the culverts to help avoid washouts in the future. "We have found that putting in head walls really reinforces those roads and will really help us in the future," Overstreet said.

So far, FEMA has approved $72 million statewide under its public assistance grant program and Overstreet says all the city can do is be patient, "There are still people without homes who had their homes destroyed.  We're thankful that didn't happen here in the Sweet Onion City, but they are still dealing with some of those issues because they still have some people living in hotels."

"Here we are again at hurricane season and it makes me a little nervous that we've been doing this since last September and it's basically a waiting game," the city manager observed.



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