07-12-03: Taft pushing to get federal
aid for flood victims
|By TIMOTHY COX
The Daily Standard
Gov. Bob Taft has asked President George W. Bush to declare a
six-county portion of West Central Ohio a federal disaster area, a move that would pave
the way for additional assistance to local residents, businesses and farms that saw damage
from the recent flood.
"After touring damaged communities in Mercer County yesterday, I
am determined to do everything in my power to help the flood victims of Ohio," Taft
said in a news release issued Friday afternoon. "The flooding is truly
A preliminary damage assessment team of federal, state and local
officials have confirmed flood damage at 406 homes with 136 of those considered extensive
damage or total losses. Officials will continue to work toward a more complete estimate of
local losses but some damage will not be fully known until flood water recedes, Taft said.
While in Celina on Thursday, Taft called the flooding the worst he has
seen in Ohio since he has been in office. In his letter to Bush, Taft asked the president
to declare a major disaster for the state due to "high winds, severe thunderstorms
and flooding that began on July 4, and are continuing."
Taft earlier this week declared states of emergency in Mercer,
Auglaize, Shelby, Darke and Van Wert counties.
Bush is expected to decide within days whether the area can receive
additional federal assistance through grants and low-interest loans. The president ruled
Thursday that flood-ravaged portions of eastern Indiana will get federal help.
Mercer County Emergency Management officials urge residents whose
property suffered flood damage to report it to the local emergency operations center at
As the cleanup continues, Verizon announced Friday that it still could
be a few days before telephone service to some customers in the Celina-St. Marys area is
fully restored. The flooded St. Marys River has prevented Verizon crews from reaching some
equipment that needs repaired.
Falling limbs and rising waters have resulted in service interruptions
to 2,700 customers statewide over the past week.
"It's been a case of one step forward, one step back all
week," said Bob Karshner, Verizon's director of operations in Ohio. "As quickly
as our crews would restore service, more rain would fall and we would have new customers
without a dial tone."
Residents who need supplies for cleaning up the mess can pick up free
kits at three locations in Mercer County. The kits are available at the Celina and
Montezuma fire departments and Celina High School.
A hazardous materials disposal day has been scheduled for July 19 from
9 a.m.-1 p.m. at the fairgrounds. Tires and household chemicals like paint and motor oil
can be properly disposed of.
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