Orange County commissioners Monday heard from Jeff Ward and Associates concerning mitigation grants made available by Hurricane Ike.

Mitigation is defined as actions taken to reduce or eliminate the long-term risk to life / property from hazards; and reducing need for emergency response as opposed to improving ability to respond. 

Activities under the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) include elevation of flood-prone structures, acquisition of property for “ … willing sellers and demolition or relocation of buildings to convert to open space,” as well as minor flood control projects.

If hired by the county, the Ward firm will work with state authorities and Orange County Emergency Management Coordinator Jeff Kelley. The company lists as clients or former clients the cities of Vidor and Beaumont, Jefferson County and the Texas Water Development Board.

Cost to the county would include a flat fee and other considerations, said Precinct 3 Commissioner John Dubose. Whether the county works with Ward or not will come down to cost versus needs, he said.

Projects are funded with a ratio of 75 percent federal monies to 25 percent local. 

The application deadline is set for March, 2009.

In other business Monday, commissioners authorized Operations and Maintenance Director Mark Wimberley to hire KBR contractors for county work associated with Ike. 

“It’s easier for us to deal with one individual agency that can deal with the insurance companies,” Wimberley said. County Judge Carl Thibodeaux emphasized that the work was for repairs only, not new construction; and that commissioners specify approval concerning priority and cost.

Also at the meeting, commissioners accepted the resignation of Vickie Hurley, assistant veterans’ service officer.