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The Daily



07-10-03: An emergency declared Gov. Taft visits Grand Lake area to assess flood damage; Mercer County property owners may be eligible for aid
The Daily Standard
    Gov. Bob Taft has declared a state of emergency for Mercer County and the surrounding area and took a flight over the flood-ravaged Grand Lake St. Marys area early this afternoon to assess damage.
    Ohio Emergency Manage-ment Agency Executive Director Dale Shipley and Taft were to meet with emergency workers and hold a 12:30 p.m. press conference at the Mercer County Central Services Building in Celina. The news conference ran past The Daily Standard's press deadline.
    The governor's state of emergency declaration frees up state financial assistance for flood victims. In order for property owners to claim government assistance, all damage must be reported and documented, county officials said.
    A large group of county, village, city, township and state officials has been meeting daily as a disaster response team in the Central Services Building in Celina, keeping track of the floodwaters in the county, dispersing information and organizing emergency supplies.
    The county has set up an emergency operations center and issued a phone number for non-emergency questions and damage reports. The number is 419-586-4347.
    Mercer County emergency management Director Karl Kaiser said property owners can call the emergency operations center number to report damage to their property. Reporting and documentation of damage will help the government decide what amounts of assistance are needed.
    The Federal Emergency Manage-ment Agency (FEMA) and federal Small Business Administration (SBA) are scheduled to be in the county today to assess the damage and report back to the governor. Rob Glenn of the Ohio EMA office said the steps toward acquiring state and federal assistance begin with the FEMA and SBA inspections.
   Glenn said Taft can then appeal to the federal government for a disaster declaration, which would free more funding.
    "The governor's mission is to go to the front lines and see how bad the damage is and meet some of the people affected by the storms that keep coming," Glenn said this morning.
    In addition to what funds may become available, the Mercer County Department of Job and Family Services has assistance that could be given to local flood victims through federal Prevention, Retention and Contingency funding. Approved applicants can receive up to $1,500.
    Also the Soil and Water Conserva-tion District may have funds available to farm owners with problems from overflowing manure lagoons, Kaiser said.
    Information on anything related to the emergency and possible assistance can be directed to the county emergency operations center.
    "There's more than just one source of funding, so anyone that has a dire need, let us know," Kaiser told the county group meeting in the emergency operations center this morning.
    In Montezuma, the fire department has stockpiled drinking water at the firehouse, due to fears of water well contamination. Bruce Gander with the Mercer County Health Department said anyone whose well has been submerged should have it disinfected and checked by the health department.
    The American Red Cross has stockpiled more drinking water in Celina High School, also with food and clean-up kits.
    The Red Cross has so far counted 36 homes with major damage in the county and 143 with minor damage. Also, 22 mobile homes in the county were destroyed, six have major damage and 65 have minor damage.
    An Environmental Protection Agency official at this morning's emergency meeting said residents need to be aware of restrictions during cleanup, such as bans on open-burning. Also, construction debris cannot be mixed with regular household trash, and household hazardous waste, such as stoves and washing machines, can't be mixed with other types of waste.


Phone: (419)586-2371,   Fax: (419)586-6271
All content copyright 2003
The Standard Printing Company
P.O. Box 140, Celina, OH 45822