Following the events of Hurricane Harvey, the firefighters of Plum Grove Volunteer Fire Department, Inc. worked to repair their fire station and vehicles effected by the flood waters. In 2018, after all the repairs were completed, the firefighters initiated a new project through FEMA.
Typically, following the completion of large FEMA projects, departments are allowed to recuperate funds for the administrative time spent working on FEMA projects through reimbursement. These Direct Administrative Costs reimbursements are often utilized by Emergency Service Districts, Counties, and Municipalities with paid staff that put in the hours to complete all the tasks FEMA requires to get through a project. Unfortunately, Volunteer Fire Departments like Plum Grove Volunteer Fire Department, Inc. do not have paid personnel, meaning no funds are spent to be reimbursed.
Luckily, Plum Grove Volunteer Fire Department, Inc. was able to find another way to utilize the Direct Administrative Costs. The department worked with FEMA personnel to determine that 5 percent of the total project cost could be considered as the department’s Direct Administrative Costs. That 5 percent, totaling $6,765.58, could be applied to an approved flood mitigation project, as long as it is within FEMA guidelines.
Following several meetings, the department was able to gain approval for the funds to be utilized for an Inflatable Swiftwater Rescue Boat. The department would be responsible for any funds that exceed the allotted amount and the purchase had to adhere to all FEMA purchasing guidelines.
Over several months, the department searched for a boat, but constantly hit roadblock after roadblock due to limited funding. Most complete Inflatable Swiftwater Rescue Boats totaled $13,000, meaning the department would have to come up with several thousands of dollars to make the initial purchase so that they could be reimbursed the $6,765.58.
The department did not have the $6,000 in funding, let alone the $13,000 for the initial purchase. The project remained dormant for months and only got worse as inflation rose following COVID-19. In August 2022, Chief Frazier and Chief Autrey met with the Plum Grove Volunteer Fire Department, Inc. Board of Directors and announced that they would make one final attempt to complete the project and, if they were unsuccessful, they would have no choice but to withdraw from the Direct Administrative Costs Project initiated in 2018.
Luck was on their side as they were able to locate a fully equipped Inflatable Swiftwater Rescue Boat for $8,000. The department did not have the $8,000to purchase the boat, but local assistance was offered by Trey Harris and El Norte Property Owners Association. A donation was made to the department that allowed them to make the purchase.
The department has since been working through finalizing the project, and assuming all FEMA requirements are met, the department will have successfully gained a new Inflatable Swiftwater Rescue Boat for only $1,234.42.
“This is a huge accomplishment for the department that will dramatically improve our ability to make rescues during floods. Until now the department has been limited to rescues that could be done using a high-water vehicle or aluminum boat, unless other agencies and organizations could assist,” said Fire Chief Brandon Frazier. “The department is grateful for the donation and excited to add the new boat to its fleet and improve its service to the community.”
Trey Harris and el Norte donated $8,000? Is that all it takes to get free reign to ruin a section of the county, degrade the environment, and drain county funds? Good to know. Trashy developers/developments shouldn’t be allowed here, county leaders who let this happen…shame on you.