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Jackson County hopes to receive disaster relief funding

JACKSON COUNTY, Okla._Jackson County officials have applied for a disaster declaration after recent storms caused flooding throughout the county.

They're asking for state and federal funding to repair an estimated $800,000 in damage sustained in the towns of Blair and Martha.

They called it the worst damage they've seen since the ice storm a few years go ago. They applied for similar funding then, and say they have no choice but to do the same now because there's no way they can properly repair the damages with their tight budget.

With the flooded fields, washed out and closed off roads it doesn't take long to realize the severity of the damages in Jackson County. Some of the roads are still so bad that Jackson County Commissioner Marty Clinton and Emergency Manager Wayne Cain had to actually give us a ride out to survey the damage.

"See, you can tell it's washed out the entire bridge and the other side has got a big gap in it," said Cain.

At one point, the water was so high and so powerful that it took apart a concrete bridge. Clinton says the bridge on the west side of Blair is heavily traveled by cotton farmers, making it a 'must-fix.' He says it comes with a hefty price tag; estimating those repairs could cost up to $200,000, money he wishes could be spent on other projects.

"We're working every day trying to improve the roads, and with the cost of materials and equipment over the last several years they've just skyrocketed and our income has remained about the same, but our costs have doubled," said Clinton.

Cain says it's kind of bittersweet. He knows the county desperately needed the rain and doesn't want to complain, he just wishes it didn't come at such a cost.

"All our lake levels, our ponds and everything have been dried up for so long. It's a blessing in one way, but you know you have to take some bad with the good, so this is the bad part," said Cain.

Cain and Clinton said this is done on a reimbursement basis, so they have a crew of about 30 employees already out working on the repairs. Their request for disaster funding still needs to be approved by the governor and FEMA, and that process could take days or weeks.

County officials say the washed out bridge wasn't even visible at the time of the flood, which stands as a good example as to why drivers should avoid driving through such high waters.

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