Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Butler Co. closer to relief from flooding



By Steve Kemme
The Cincinnati Enquirer

HAMILTON - Butler County cleared a major hurdle Monday in its attempt to receive financial relief for homeowners who sustained uninsured damages from this month's flood.

The U.S. Small Business Administration's regional office in Atlanta recommended that the county be declared a disaster area. The SBA office in Washington will make the final decision.

A disaster designation would enable uninsured flood victims in Butler County and neighboring counties to apply for low-interest loans from the SBA. Those who don't qualify for those loans could apply for Ohio's individual assistance grants.

"This is a chance for people to get back on their feet," said William Turner, director of the Butler County Emergency Management Agency.

There is no indication when the SBA's Washington office will make a decision, said Matt Young, a spokesman for the SBA's Area 2 Disaster Assistance office in Atlanta, which has Ohio and 13 other states under its jurisdiction. Turner said he hopes to see a decision this week.

"People need to know what they've got to work with," he said. "Many of them can't afford to repair their homes the way it should be done unless they have somebody helping them."

During the second week of June, heavy rain caused some creeks and other waterways to flood, damaging more than 300 Butler County homes. The vast majority of homes affected by flooding in Butler sustained minor damage, such as flooded basements, Turner said.

Communities in Butler County that suffered flood damages include St. Clair Township, New Miami, Fairfield, College Corner and Somerville, as well as Hanover, Ross, Milford and Reily townships.

Much of the flooding centered on areas near Four Mile, Seven Mile and Pleasant Run creeks. The most severely damaged homes were on Warwick Avenue in St. Clair Township, where Four Mile Creek runs.

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E-mail skemme@enquirer.com




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