Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

May 9, 2013

Area doesn’t qualify for FEMA help

Other flood relief funds available.

By Ken de la Bastide
Tribune staff writer

— Local officials have learned individual property owners in Howard, Tipton and Grant counties do not qualify for flood assistance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Larry Smith, director of the Howard County Emergency Management Agency, said overall for the state, there were 182 properties with major damage and one destroyed. Smith said in Howard County there were 108 properties with major damage, 116 with minor damage and 77 that were affected by the floods.

Smith said businesses, homeowners and renters may qualify for loans or grants through the U.S. Small Business Administration or the state’s Disaster Relief Fund.

“We were the hardest hit county,” Smith said at Tuesday’s commissioners meeting. “The numbers from the other counties were not sufficient to qualify for FEMA assistance.”

Smith said the SBA will be coming into Howard County to provide loans or grants to private individuals.

Tipton Mayor Don Havens said Wednesday local government entities may still be eligible for some assistance from FEMA for expenditures made in cleaning up debris after the flood.

Havens said if an individual property owner doesn’t qualify for SBA assistance, they may qualify for assistance from the Indiana Disaster Relief Fund. He said those funds are capped at $5,000.

The city of Tipton has estimated it spent $300,000 on clearing debris from the flood.

Randy Morris, Kokomo city controller, said the city has spent $550,000 as of Tuesday related to the flood. Most of it was for public safety and cleanup expenses, including police and fire overtime, cleanup of dirt and silt, and extra tipping fees for trash removal.

Kokomo qualified as a federal disaster area back in 2003, and FEMA received 2,035 applications for individual assistance then from Howard County residents. Not all of those applications were accepted.

Gov. Mike Pence asked federal officials Tuesday for low-interest disaster loans for central Indiana counties following recent flooding.

Pence requested the SBA provide disaster funds for Grant, Howard and Tipton counties because of severe storms and flooding April 17 through 23.

If the request is approved, residents, businesses and nonprofit organizations affected by the storms would be eligible to apply for the loans as would those affected by flooding in the contiguous counties of Blackford, Carroll, Cass, Clinton, Delaware, Hamilton, Huntington, Madison, Miami, Wabash and Wells.

An estimate of damages in the three counties was not available as of press time.

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