Over the past few months, many constituents have reached out to share concerns and experiences related to flooding across District 29. There are many areas that have been affected. Specifically, Leonardtown and McIntosh Run have been severely impacted by the heavy rain and experienced unprecedented flooding. Residents and small business owners have shared their frustration in an attempt to find a resolution to their concerns as well as the best point of contact to work on a potential solution to address the flooding moving forward.
On October 13, Senator Bailey facilitated a meeting with Commissioner Hewitt to discuss the best way to work toward a solution. Delegate Morgan, Commissioner President Guy and Mayor Burris were the other elected officials who attended. In addition, this meeting brought together representatives from all levels of government to address this issue, including Leonardtown Town Administrator Laschelle McKay, County Administrator Dr. Rebecca Bridgett, County Attorney David Weiskopf, St. Mary’s County Director of Public Works and Transportation John Deatrick, Steve Walker and Gerald Gardiner from the St. Mary’s County Department of Emergency Services, and multiple representatives of the State Highway Administration, the Department of Natural Resources, the Maryland Department of the Environment, the Soil Conservation District, the Maryland Emergency Management Agency, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Following these discussions, we believe that we have established a general plan of action to begin a more unified response to address the flooding issues affecting many residents in this area. In short, it is our understanding that the County may be able to apply for available grant money once additional research is conducted to determine what can be done to help remedy the consistent flooding in this area. Grants are potentially available to benefit residents, however all applications must be submitted by a county or municipality. This means that the resident works with the county or municipality to develop a plan and apply for these grants based on a set of criteria specific to each available program and the particular solutions that would be associated with the project.
The representatives of the various State agencies who were in attendance agreed to assist in this effort whenever possible. It is important to be aware that this process is estimated to take around two years before substantial progress is made and funding could be finalized. While we know that this is a long time frame, this is the process that is required to receive these grants and how improvements or repairs of the area can be funded. If an application is approved, for example, the FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant funding formula is 75% federal and 25% non-federal. The purpose of requesting this meeting was to identify who is responsible for leading these efforts and beginning this process. These discussions have established the need for a plan to be crafted by the County to provide long-term relief to the many concerned residents who have reached out to our office.
While the flooding concerns in this area date back for an extended period of time, we have determined who will be responsible for leading the response to this issue or similar issues that may arise. Being that some residents have shared with us that they have expressed their frustration to multiple government agencies in the past with little result in reference to the flooding, we understand how important it is to ensure that anyone impacted by the recent flooding is working with one person who has responsibility over any future improvements that could be made to the area rather than dealing with multiple agencies within various levels of government at the same time. As the County works to research potential solutions to establish a complete plan of action that must be submitted along with any grant application, please direct all future questions or specific concerns on this matter to Dr. Rebecca Bridgett, County Administrator, who will be working with Steve Walker or Gerald Gardiner in Emergency Services.
While Senator Bailey will not be directly involved in crafting the plan of action for this project, he remains committed to support this process in any way that he can going forward. Additionally, he is incredibly hopeful that facilitating and requesting this initial meeting will be the basis for positive progress moving forward for all involved.
If you are an affected resident in this area please direct your detailed concerns to the attention of Dr. Bridgett via email to: Rebecca.Bridgett@stmarysmd.com and feel free to copy Senator Bailey’s office as well so that we can continue to follow this issue.