Federal Money Denied For Graniteville Disaster

By: Kristen Cosby
By: Kristen Cosby

February 21, 2005
A thank you lunch provided a reunion for emergency workers who covered the Graniteville chemical spill. Most of them racked up a lot of overtime the first few weeks of January. But it may be a while before the county sees a check for the extra man-hours.

It’s a thank you for Aiken County’s super heroes complete with burgers and clowns. Honda Cars of Aiken threw a lunch for the law enforcement and their families who helped out during the Graniteville disaster. It was a little something free for a County that’s spent millions of dollars in costs related to the accident.

Mike Hintz and his wife work for Aiken County EMS.

“On this even I only had about 24 hours extra than my normal shift, but my wife worked probably 72 hours over,” Mike Hintz said.

To cover costs like overtime, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford’s request for federal dollars was denied last week, something Emergency Director David Ruth expected.

“It certainly is a big emergency for us, but in the grander scale of things it had to be a much larger emergency,” Ruth said.

Still the loss of funds means paying expenses will be delayed.

“It just means it’s gonna take our community longer to heal, it’s gonna take our fire department longer to replace equipment and get back where we were,” said Phil Napier, GVW Fire Chief.

One reason the federal money was denied is because Norfolk Southern is supposed to pick up most of the tab, but some say they’ve yet to hear anything about the money.

“We’ve had no discussions with the railroad as far as reimbursement or anything,” Napier said.

But law enforcement agencies haven’t applied with the railroad for funding, they were waiting to see if the federal dollars were coming.

So for now, it’s more waiting to take care of the ongoing aftermath of Graniteville’s train crash.

Governor Sanford’s office says they will reapply for the federal money. But emergency officials think they’ll be denied again.

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