Jay Fergusonjay@deepcreekvacations.com301-501-0420

With upcoming snow, Garrett hoping for federal money

Megan Miller
Cumberland Times-News

OAKLAND — The snowstorm that began in Western Maryland on Tuesday afternoon could last through early Friday and pelt the region with as much as 15 to 20 inches of snow in the higher elevations.

That’s according to Pittsburgh National Weather Service meteorologist Rich Kane, who briefed the Garrett County Commission and other officials via telephone and video feed Tuesday morning.

“I think for Garrett County it’s going to be pretty wintry even through early Friday,” said Kane, who predicted accumulations of 14 to 20 inches by the end of the storm.

Kane said Garrett could also see high winds around 20 mph Wednesday and 30 mph Thursday, which could cause problems with drifting snow.

That’s bad news for roads maintenance crews and emergency services personnel, who put in long hours and spent large chunks of their budgets dealing with the weekend storm that dropped up to 40 inches on the county.

The weekend storm cost the county about $50,000 per day in overtime, equipment and materials costs, according to Roads General Superintendent Jay Moyer.

“As of Jan. 30, we had about $21,500 left in the budget to cover overtime,” Moyer said. “That’s gone now.”

Under the county’s snow emergency plan, several fire stations are put on standby to provide shelter if needed, and winter rescue teams from several agencies are alerted to be ready to assist residents. Anyone in need of shelter can call (301) 334-1930 to request help. Public safety officials also ask that residents make sure to keep their furnace vents uncovered for safety, keep an eye on snow loads on their rooftops and check on their neighbors.

Both the county and Maryland declared a state of emergency in the weekend storm, and some Garrett officials believe more snow could mean the county will receive a federal emergency declaration.

A federal declaration would channel federal dollars into the county that could be used to reimburse county services for extra costs incurred dealing with the storm. Overtime and equipment costs for snow removal efforts, public utilities work and emergency services like police, fire and emergency medical services could all be reimbursed for amounts spent over their normal operating costs, explained Garrett County Emergency Management Director Brad Frantz.

But there are a lot of variables involved in receiving federal emergency aid. For example, new regulations put in place in recent years state that snow storm accumulations must be within 10 percent of a county’s record snowfall for the county to qualify, Frantz said. For Garrett, that means a snowstorm needs to drop about 45 inches in one event.

The forecast for Tuesday’s storm called for far less than that, but it could still push the county over the threshold if both the Tuesday and weekend storm are counted as one event, Frantz explained.

“We don’t yet know for sure if that will happen,” Frantz said. “But there’s a chance they may call this one event, since they’ve extended the state of emergency from the weekend through the beginning of the week.”

Allegany County, too, might come near its qualifying threshold if the storms are considered one event, said Dick DeVore, acting chief of the Allegany County Joint Communications Center. But he emphasized that there’s no way for the county to be certain about that.

“We believe that potentially we’re going to be close to that threshold,” DeVore said. “But ultimately, it depends on what data the National Weather Service uses to calculate snowfall in the county. And there are a lot of other moving parts.”

If either county receives a federal emergency declaration, the other would be eligible for aid as an adjoining county, Frantz said.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the National Weather Service had issued a winter storm warning in effect through late Wednesday afternoon for Allegany County. The forecast predicted accumulations of 6 to 12 inches in eastern and central Allegany County, and a possibility of up to 20 inches in the western areas.

If you are thinking of buying or selling real estate in Garrett County or Deep Creek Lake, Maryland, call Jay Ferguson of Long & Foster Real Estate for all of your real estate needs! 877-563-5350



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