Casper, Natrona Leaders Approve Emergency Relief Resolutions
The Casper City Council and the Natrona County Commission approved similar resolutions at emergency meetings on Friday afternoon to declare a disaster after the severe storms and flooding that inundated the area on Thursday.
The City and the County needed the resolutions to begin collecting information about the seriousness of the damage to property and sending it to the state for possible disaster relief.
The meetings were called so hastily Friday afternoon that most council and commission members had to call in to cast their votes.
The City had to approve its resolution first, according to the process.
It stated the flooding damaged public and private property, disrupted utility service, and endangered the health and safety of residents.
It also stated public and private services were insufficient to alleviate the effects of the flooding.
Finally, the resolution resolved that "the mayor hereby declares disaster and a state of emergency on behalf of Casper, and is authorized and directed to execute the Resolution for and on behalf of Casper, Wyoming for the expenditure of emergency funds from all available sources, the invoking of mutual aid agreements, and the requisition assistance from the State of Wyoming."
The County's resolution, as read by Commission Chairman Steve Freel, contained much of the same language, but in the context of the County.
Casper City Manager Carter Napier said the resolutions need to show the City and the County are in sync when the time comes to apply for disaster relief from the state.
"This helps put things in motion," Napier said.
Mayor Bruce Knell said that the flooding comes on the heels of one of the worst winters in central Wyoming in many decades.
Flooding was so hard on the storm sewer system that water pressure blew manhole covers in some areas of the city, Knell added.
After the Commission meeting, Freel said the flooding appeared to be limited within city limits, adding he hasn't heard from anyone in the unincorporated areas of the county about the flooding affecting them.
But some of the damage in Casper was severe enough to lift a house off its foundation in the Fort Casper part of town.
The County already has issued a request for property owners who suffered damages to report them.
Freel said the county needs to show that at least $350,000 in damages to occur to file a request for relief from the state. "That house is half of that."
However, there's no guarantee that the state will provide any relief regardless of the amount of property damage that occurred, he said.
But without the resolution and property damage reports, nothing will happen, so the County needed to approve the resolution, Freel said.
"This is our way of taking that first step," he said.