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Feds to assess storm damage this week

| Sunday, Sept. 8, 2013, 12:11 a.m.

Whether or not low-interest loans will be offered to help Armstrong County residents recover from recent flooding will hinge on the results of a damage assessment being done this week.

Representatives of the federal Small Business Administration are expected to be in the county Tuesday to join county officials in assessing damage from the August 28 rainfall.

It is not a sure thing that aid will be offered, said Randy Brozenick, Armstrong County public safety director. It will depend on enough damage being found to meet the agency's criteria for offering aid.

Local government officials have been urging residents to report damage.

According to the National Weather Service, as measured at Ford City, about 4 inches of rain fell between noon August 28 and 4 a.m. August 29.

Brozenick said damage was reported in 17 municipalities: Apollo, Bethel, Brady's Bend, Burrell, Cadogan, East Franklin, Ford City, Gilpin, Kiski, Manor, North Apollo, North Buffalo, Parks, South Buffalo, Sugarcreek, West Franklin and Worthington.

More than 200 homes sustained damage, Brozenick said. A monetary estimate of the damage was not available.

No state aid is coming because the damage was not severe enough, Brozenick said. No funding is available from the county.

“This was such a small storm that hit such a small area. There's not enough damage for them to get a state declaration,” Brozenick said.

SBA inspectors would have to identify 25 or more homes and/or businesses that had substantial uninsured losses to issue a disaster declaration, spokesman Jack Camp said.

Because of the criteria used by the SBA, not all of the properties identified as damaged by the county may count toward SBA's tally, Brozenick said. For instance, homes that had only basement flooding will not be counted by the SBA, he said.

If enough damage is found, the SBA would act after receiving a request from Gov. Tom Corbett, Camp said.

“It typically only takes a couple of days at most to get that,” Camp said.

If approved, low-interest loans would be available to homeowners, renters, businesses and nonprofit organizations affected by the event, Camp said.

Homeowners could borrow up to $200,000 to repair or replace disaster-damaged real estate. Owners and renters could qualify for up to $40,000 more for personal property damage, including cars.

Businesses would be able to borrow up to $2 million for uninsured losses.

If approved, loans would be available to those in Armstrong and adjacent counties, Camp said.

Brian C. Rittmeyer is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4701 or brittmeyer@tribweb.com.

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