County weighs sending help for Midwest flood cleanup

August 04, 1993|By Kerry O'Rourke and Greg Tasker | Kerry O'Rourke and Greg Tasker,Staff Writers

Carroll commissioners said yesterday that they are considering sending employees and equipment to help clean up when the floodwaters subside in the Midwest.

Meanwhile, Mount Airy officials plan to adopt a Missouri town ravaged by the floods.

The commissioners asked public works employee Patrick Hill to recommend how the county can best help. Mr. Hill, construction agreements coordinator, said he would like to travel to the Midwest to help.

"We should have some kind of program," Commissioner Donald I. Dell said.

The commissioners agreed to ask County Attorney Charles W. "Chuck" Thompson Jr. whether county insurance would cover employees when they worked in the Midwest and what the county's liability would be if an employee were to be hurt.

"We should get a legal opinion on our liability," Mr. Dell said. "I'd like to forget about that, but we can't."

The county also would have to determine whether it would pay workers' salaries while they were in the Midwest, he said.

"They should be covered on salaries, most certainly," Commissioner Elmer C. Lippy said.

Commissioner Julia W. Gouge and Mr. Lippy agreed that the county should coordinate with state efforts to send cleanup help.

Assistant Secretary of State Vonzell R. Ward said yesterday that state agencies are discussing whether to send people and equipment.

Mr. Hill said, "We have no idea what they really need yet."

Cleanup crews may need front-end loaders and other heavy equipment to remove several feet of mud that will have settled when the water recedes, he said.

He suggested that the county adopt a sister city in one of the states affected by flooding, as Mount Airy is doing.

The county could choose a smaller county or town that might not receive help from other sources, Mr. Hill said. Mr. Dell said he liked that idea.

Carroll's efforts to help victims of Hurricane Andrew in a Louisiana parish last year were unsuccessful, said Micki Smith, deputy director of administrative services.

The county asked employees and residents to make donations, but not much was collected, she said.

"It was an embarrassing result," Ms. Smith said.

The county raised $101 and collected 80 rolls of flooring, said Zoning Enforcement Chief George L. Beisser, who was in charge of the effort.

Mount Airy residents met yesterday to organize efforts to adopt Alexandria, a small Missouri town at the confluence of the Des Moines and Mississippi rivers.

"The town is completely under water," said Mount Airy Mayor Gerald R. Johnson. "It has been for weeks. The mayor there visited his house Sunday and said the water was up to the eaves. The big task ahead is disposing of everything. There's not going to be anything worth saving."

Mr. Johnson said Alexandria residents need canned foods and boots. Money also is needed because the town is financially strapped, having already exceeded its $21,000 annual budget. The town has a population of about 500.

"Our intentions are to involve Mount Airy and the surrounding area," Mr. Johnson said. "We're going to meet today to lay the groundwork and then have a press conference to get the information out once we know where we're going."

Mr. Johnson said Dottie Gosnell, who runs the Olde Town Restaurant on Main Street in Mount Airy, came up with the idea of helping flood victims. Mr. Johnson was asked to find families to adopt, and his efforts led him to Alexandria.

"Rather than adopt a family, why not adopt a town?" he said. "We want to help the people there get through this."

Another local organization, the Carroll County Salvation Army, is taking donations for flood victims. Money, clothing, shoes, blankets, small appliances, nonperishable goods and other items can be brought to the office at 100 Railroad Ave. in Westminster.

Everything will then be transferred to the group's headquarters in Baltimore to be packed and shipped to the flood victims. Sgt. Judy Coles said the Salvation Army's Carroll County office is planning an organized drive but has not settled on a date because the Baltimore office is still securing storage space for the collected items.

Mr. Ward said Gov. William Donald Schaefer has asked each state resident to donate $1 to help flood victims. The state has collected $21,000 since July 15, he said.

Money should be sent to Midwest Flood Relief, Maryland State House, Annapolis, Md. 21401.

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