An emergency declaration is just around the corner for the city of Havre.
At Tuesday’s meeting the City Council voted to approve Mayor Tim Solomon’s decision to declare an emergency in an effort to get funding to repair damages from the surfeit of water.
The mayor said after the meeting that he would be filing the paperwork to declare the emergency this week.
According to the council’s discussion and advice from Hill County Disaster and Emergency Services Coordinator Joe Parenteau, the emergency declaration serves to let the governor’s office know that the city might not be able to handle all of the damages with their current resources.
This process is different from a disaster declaration that would be required to actually get assistance from the state or federal governments.
Though the emergency does not have to be declared before a disaster is declared, the council compared the process to a bank loan, where declaring an emergency would be like filling out an application to begin the approval process before specific needs would be known.
To get funds with a disaster declaration, the city would have to contribute 2 mills to the funds, which Parenteau said after the meeting would be around $15,000 for Havre. That money could be provided however the city saw fit, either from their funds, through raising a mill levy or through in-kind contributions, like the equipment and manpower of the city’s Public Works Department.
While assistance for public entities is the only funds being offered currently, Parenteau came to the meeting after having spent all of Tuesday with representatives from both the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Montana Department of Emergency Services inspecting local private homes and businesses to gather data for the governor’s office.
Scott Sanders, a FEMA field specialist who spent Tuesday and today inspecting homes, said he would be filing his findings with the governor who would use the information to make a decision about the need for private assistance — government assistance directly to private property owners who have been affected by the disaster.