The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

County, FEMA work toward Saxon Harbor aid total

n Snow Country awarded debris removal contract


Richard Jenkins/Daily Globe

THE RECENTLY completed bridge across Oronto Creek restores access to Saxon Harbor via County A. The previous road was washed out during the July 11 storm that flooded the harbor's campground and marina, destroying them. Local state and federal officials continue to negotiate the amount of aid Iron County will receive to rebuild the harbor, with Iron County Forest and Parks Administrator Eric Peterson saying Tuesday the latest estimate of the total costs to rebuild the harbor is roughly $8.8 million. This figure would include all the work being done by the various entities involved in rebuilding the harbor, including the Federal Highway Administration, Army Corps of Engineers and the county's insurance company.


Hurley - Iron County has presented the Federal Emergency Management Agency with its initial estimates of the costs to repair Saxon Harbor to its status before the July 11 storm, when heavy rains caused flooding that destroyed the harbor.

Iron County Forestry and Parks Administrator Eric Peterson told the county's Forestry and Parks Committee Tuesday that information was presented in a meeting earlier in the day, with the latest repair cost coming to $8.8 million.

Peterson said the figure was a total calculation, included everything from the work done by the Federal Highway Administration and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to the county's insurance company.

He made clear there are still several moving pieces in calculating repair costs and while the number is more accurate than some earlier figures that were based on ballpark estimates, it is still not necessarily the final figure.

"This is a draft proposal. There's some things in here ... that we discussed this morning that would need to be moved around. There's going to be some negotiation between us and the insurance company on dollar values," Peterson said. "But the biggest thing we discussed this morning - and I think we're pretty comfortable with - is the stuff that's identified in this proposal that the insurance company is going to cover. They pretty much agree they are going to cover that stuff. It's a matter of if they're going to cover it at $100 or $70 or whatever it may be, that's up for determination."

One of the big reasons Peterson said the costs appear to be lower than maybe initially expected was the determination that the east wall of the harbor was sound and didn't need to be repaired.

Based on Tuesday's meeting with FEMA, Peterson said he felt about as confident as he could at this stage in the process.

"The numbers may not be as big as we initially thought, or hoped, but I'm fairly confident we're going to get everything we have coming," Peterson said.

Peterson was vague regarding the timeline for rebuilding the harbor, saying a lot depended on whether the harbor was redesigned or put back to the way it was. Any changes to the design will extend the timeline, Peterson said, as plans would have to be drawn up before work could be done.

The committee also awarded the contract for cleaning up the debris at the harbor left from the storm.

Snow Country Contracting, of Ironwood, was awarded the contract, with a low bid of $109,928.

Ashland Construction and Ross Peterson Construction, of Hurley, submitted bids of $165,040 and $147,573, respectively.

The numbers were approximates, Peterson said, as it's hard to calculate the amount of debris at the harbor until it's removed.

Peterson told the committee debris removal was deemed large enough that it qualified as a large project under FEMA's guideline, meaning the county will be reimbursed at the actual costs, rather than estimated costs.

Peterson said this meant if the project turns out to cost more than expected, the county is still receiving 87.5 percent - 75 percent from FEMA and 12.5 percent from the state - of costs reimbursed.

"If it had of been classified as a small project - say at a value of $80,000 - they would pay us 87.5 percent of $80,000 and if the project cost us $100,000, we eat the difference," he said. "That's why it was important to get us to that large category, because it's whatever we spend ... it's reimbursed at 87.5 percent."

The debris removal has to be completed by Nov. 18, Peterson said.


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