|07-11-03: Flood cleanup under way
|By SEAN RICE
The Daily Standard
Floodwaters have begun to recede and the weather report looks clear
through the weekend. Now local officials say the recovery stages of the Independence Day
flood are beginning.
The American Red Cross counted 408 homes that were damaged as a result
of nearly a week of rain in Mercer County. So far, the agency reports 10 homes and 25
mobile homes were destroyed; 42 homes and 10 mobile homes sustained major damage; and 250
homes and 71 mobile homes sustained minor damage.
The emergency response team of government officials from around the
county gathered again this morning at the emergency operations center in Celina to
coordinate the start of what could be a long recovery and cleanup period.
Karl Kaiser, director of Mercer County's emergency management agency,
said this morning that the county has more damage than expected, especially in mobile
homes. And the number of damaged homes is sure to rise as they are reported.
"There's sufficient damage out there and I feel very confident
we're going to be able to get a lot of help for the people," Kaiser said.
The help available comes in the form of volunteer laborers to help
remove sandbags and clean up properties, food and monetary assistance from the Red Cross,
advice and services from the county health and solid waste departments, and monetary
assistance from a myriad of government sources.
The heath department is offering advice to disinfect water wells and
prevent mosquitoes and can issue tetanus shots to injured workers. The county solid waste
department is setting up dumpsters for damaged household items such as rugs and drywall,
and a hazardous waste day has been set for July 19 at the Mercer County Fairgrounds.
As a result of Gov. Bob Taft's declaration of an emergency state in
Mercer and surrounding counties, and inspections by the Federal Emergency Management
Agency (FEMA) and the federal Small Business Administration (SBA), several emergency
funding routes have opened.
Kaiser said he is confident SBA funding will be available, which can be
used for businesses and residents. If a federal disaster designation is given by President
George W. Bush, Individual Family Grants (IFG) will become available. If not, the state
has IFG money to disperse, Kaiser said.
Money may also become available from the Farm Service Agency and Mercer
County Community Development and Job and Family Services. Also, public assistance money
may become available for expenses incurred by governments and other public agencies, such
as fire departments.
"We were in a response phase, now we're in the recovery phase. And
the work has just begun," Kaiser said, adding that it could take weeks before any
funds are received.
The Red Cross is managing a donation fund to help local victims of the
flood, and checks can be made to the Mercer County Disaster Relief Fund.
Kaiser said his agency still needs detailed damage reports from local
governments and property owners to more accurately assess what amounts of assistance need
to be requested.
The Red Cross is set up in Celina High School and has food, water and
clean up kits ready to move.
Cases must be set up through the agency's disaster headquarters in
Falls Church, Va. by calling toll-free 1-866-GET-INFO. Nothing can be done for flood
victims until they have a case number.
The local worker in charge, Richard Baughman, said mobile food trucks
are also ready to roll.
"We have a semi truck full of gallon jugs of water, so let us know
where you need it," Baughman said.
For information regarding assistance or to report damage, contact the
emergency operations center at 419-586-4347. The center will be open from approximately 8
a.m. to 4 p.m. today and Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. To contact the solid waste
department call 419-586-3695. The local number for the Red Cross is 419-586-8300 extension
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