Friday, August 17, 2001

Federal flood aid is sought

Ohio's cost estimated at $7.7M

By Steve Kemme
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Ohio Gov. Bob Taft sought federal money Thursday to help pay for $7.7 million in damage and costs local and state government agencies in Southwest Ohio sustained in July's flooding.

        Gov. Taft asked President Bush to declare Hamilton, Butler, Clermont and Brown counties disaster areas.

        If the request is granted, the four counties, the Ohio Department of Transportation and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources will be eligible for partial federal reimbursement for the money they spent because of flash floods on July 17 and 18.

        In his letter to the president, Gov. Taft said the state will pay up to half of the costs not covered by federal assistance.

        The damage involved roads, bridges and other infrastructure and the costs included repairs and overtime paid to employees working on the flood clean-up.

        The flash flooding killed three people and damaged hundreds of homes and businesses throughout the Tristate. The U.S. Small Business Administration has declared Hamilton and Butler counties disaster areas, enabling them and surrounding counties to qualify for SBA loans.

        Meanwhile, the disaster assistance centers that had been set up in Fairfax and Hamilton to help victims of the flooding closed Thursday.

        Since the centers opened Aug. 1, 270 people visited them, said Dick Kimmins, spokesman for the Ohio Emergency Management Agency. About 75 percent of those visits occurred during the first week of operation, he said.

        Flood victims can apply to SBA for low-interest loans on uninsured property. Those who don't qualify for SBA loans can apply for Ohio's individual assistant grants.

        The deadline for applying for SBA loans is Sept. 27.

        Although the two disaster assistance centers have closed, flood victims can apply for SBA loans and state grants by calling toll-free telephone numbers. For SBA loans, call (800) 359-2227. For state individual assistance grants, call (800) 545-0553.


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