Mayor says Bibb County could fund Irma repairs

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Mayor Robert Reichert says it could be a while until Bibb County gets reimbursed by FEMA for expenses from Tropical Storm Irma.

Tuesday, Reichert told commissioners that because of all of the recent storms, FEMA is running low on funds, which means the county should prepare to budget for storm expenses.

Bibb EMA Director Spencer Hawkins says they are currently compiling all the expenses that Tropical Storm Irma cost Bibb County to send those receipts to FEMA. He says one of the main items they are looking at is how much they will have to pay the hundreds of employees who worked overtime. Mario Redding is one of those employees.

Redding says this week is standard road cleanup for his public works crew, but he says that was not the case a few weeks ago.

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“Biggest trees I’ve seen in a long time out there,” says Redding.

Redding says Tropical Storm Irma left them with a job different than most days.

“We had chainsaws. We cut trees out of the road. We opened up roads so other emergency vehicles could get through and do their jobs,” says Redding.

Redding says he racked up 15 hours of overtime helping clean up after the storm. The Director of Public Works, Marvin Land, says Redding is not alone.

“7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and then the second shift was 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.,” says Land.

Land says about 70 employees worked that shift for three days, which he says could easily add up to thousands of extra dollars.

“That’s just something you can’t prepare for and it’s something you have to address when it happens and do what you need to do,” says Land.

Hawkins says it is not just overtime they are having to budget for.

“Everything from heavy equipment to coolers to copy paper to print out our emergency reports in the emergency operations center, so everybody knew what was going on, it covers everything,” says Hawkins.

Even though Redding says he is looking forward to a big paycheck this month, he says nothing is better than knowing he helped people out.

“It makes me feel good to help the community,” says Redding.