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Armstrong flood victims could get federal aid

Louis B. Ruediger | Leader Times
A mound of damaged belongings sits along Skinnall Road as residents of the Cadogan area continue to clean up after the flash flood two weeks ago. Semptember 10, 2013

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Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013, 12:11 a.m.

Federal assistance could be on the way for victims of the Aug. 28 floods in Armstrong County.

County officials hope to obtain a Small Business Administration Disaster Declaration, which would allow flood victims to apply for low-interest loans to help cover flood damages, according to Randy Brozenick, director of public safety.

“We had over 200 homes affected by the flood, but with the amount of damage in Armstrong County, we do not qualify for a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) disaster declaration and assistance,” Brozenick said.

“It's the only assistance out there available for us.”

Brozenick said county officials must identify at least 25 homes or businesses with at least 40 percent of their flood damages not covered by insurance. If officials can identify these homes, Brozenick said, the county must send a report to Gov. Tom Corbett's office for approval, then on to President Obama's office for final approval.

If approved, affected residents would be able to apply for low-interest loans through the federal Small Business Administration.

Brozenick said he hopes county officials will be able to file a report with Corbett's office before the end of the week.

“I don't know how long the process will take, but we're pushing as hard as we can to get our report out there,” Brozenick said. “There are a lot of people out there who need help, but right now, we're at the mercy of the government.”

During the flooding, the county worked with the American Red Cross, Armstrong County Community Action Agency and the Salvation Army to address immediate needs, such as food, shelter and other amenities, Brozenick said.

The Red Cross provided a total of 820 cleanup kits at the Ford City borough building, the Cadogan and Kiski township buildings, and their local office in Kittanning, along with another half-dozen locations in Westmoreland County, according to Lauren Ashley, regional communications officer for the Red Cross.

“We certainly saw some homes with damages, but most of it was to basements, so we were able to sit down and make sure their needs were met,” Ashley said. “All of the kits were gone, so we were glad we were able to provide something to help with local cleanup efforts.”

The American Red Cross' Southwestern Pennsylvania division received flood reports from across the region, Ashley said.

In Armstrong County, the Red Cross assisted 10 families, comprised of 21 people, with shelter, and 12 families, comprised of 39 people, with food. The organization provided clothing to 32 people after the storm.

“It's been a wet summer, so when the rains are heavy, flooding happens quickly,” Ashley said. “The floods came a lot faster than a lot of families expected, and not everyone was able to prepare for the after effects.”

Brad Pedersen is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-543-1303, ext. 1337.

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