Thursday, August 02, 2001

Offices open for flood victims

By Steve Kemme
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Nancy Lloyd, whose $375,000 house in Loveland was destroyed in last month's flooding, took her first big steps toward recovering Wednesday.

        She walked into the gym/cafeteria of Fairfax Elementary School and applied for a low-interest loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

        “Here I am ready to retire,” said Mrs. Lloyd, 69, “and now I don't even have a house.”

    The Soil and Water Conservation districts of Hamilton and Clermont counties have logjam removal funds available for landowners whose property was damaged in the July 17-18 storms.
    Logjams can aggravate and increase flooding in prone areas, contribute to stream bank erosion and reduce stream flow during dry weather.
    Under the program, all debris and vegetation removed from a stream must be disposed of in a manner consistent with local floodplain and stream litter regulations. Also, trees leaning more than 45 degrees and having undercut roots may be removed.
    Removal of sediment or gravel is not eligible under this program.
    For an application in Hamilton County, call 772-7645. In Clermont County, call 732-2181.
        More than 60 victims of the July 17-18 flooding entered disaster assistance offices that opened Wednesday in Fairfax and Hamilton.

        In both offices, representatives from the SBA, the Ohio Emergency Management Agency, the American Red Cross and the Ohio Department of Insurance were available to assist.

        Mrs. Lloyd and her husband, David, have no flood insurance and are staying in an apartment. They hope to secure enough money to build a new home on a different site.

        But they're thankful just to be alive. They had to climb on the roof of their house to escape the deadly floodwaters.

        “My husband had to swim from tree to tree to get to a neighbor's house and call for help,” Mrs. Lloyd said.

        In the Fairfax and the Hamilton offices, there was little or no waiting. Officials of agencies staffing those centers had expected more applicants the first day.

        They attributed the light turnout to Wednesday's being a workday, and to some people staying away for fear there would be a big first-day crowd.

        Representatives from the Cincinnati-Hamilton County Community Action Agency were in the Fairfax office to offer free home repairs for low-income flood victims.

        Flood victims must apply for SBA loans by Sept. 27. SBA loans are for individuals and businesses. Those who don't qualify can apply for state disaster assistance grants. It's a new Ohio program that started July 1.

        Almost every person who walked in had a sad story to tell.

        Joannie Rauckhorst, of Warren County's Deerfield Township, held her 11-month-old daughter on her lap on a folding chair in the Fairfax center as she answered the questions of an SBA representative.

        Flooding destroyed both family cars and left 4 feet of water in their basement.

        “It came up so fast from a drain in the basement that the sump pump couldn't handle it,” Mrs. Rauckhorst said.

        Water came rushing down the 400-foot-long driveway of Gary Sturni, of Hamilton, ripping up sheets of asphalt. He said the drainage system on Columbia Street is inadequate for heavy rains.

        Water caused a foundation wall of William and Doris Mack's house in Fairfax to collapse, forcing the couple to live temporarily with a daughter.

        Like many victims of the July 17-18 storm, they have no flood insurance.

        “After 40 years of no problems, now we have a big one,” Mrs. Mack said. “We had water in our yard before, but never in our house.”


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