5 Md. counties declared national disaster areas Aid to help flood-damaged homes and businesses

January 24, 1996|By Frank Langfitt | Frank Langfitt,SUN STAFF

President Clinton declared five Maryland counties national disaster areas yesterday -- making available millions of dollars in grants and loans to help residents and businesses recover from severe flooding last weekend.

The money will be used to repair water damage to homes and other buildings in five designated counties -- Garrett, Allegany, Washington, Frederick and Cecil.

"We're ready to give help to those communities that have been practicing self-help," said Democratic Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, announcing the disaster declaration yesterday in Annapolis.

Under the declaration, the federal government will provide rent money or temporary housing to families whose homes have been destroyed and who do not have sufficient insurance to cover repairs.

The Small Business Administration also will make long-term loans to replace cars, clothing and other personal property at interest rates of 4 percent to 8 percent.

In addition, the agency will provide loans to businesses to pay for repair and replacement of damaged property, inventory and supplies not covered by insurance.

Heavy rains and melting snow from this month's blizzard forced the Potomac and Susquehanna rivers out of their banks last week. The resultant flooding destroyed seven homes in Allegany County and left at least 70,000 people without drinking water in the Hagerstown area, according to a partial assessment by the Maryland Emergency Management Agency.

Gov. Parris N. Glendening said that of 260 homes damaged in Allegany County, only 3 percent appear to have flood insurance.

The floods also damaged at least 500 other homes and at least 39 businesses in Western Maryland and Cecil County, according to state estimates.

Small Business Administration chief Philip Lader pledged that his agency would cut the sometimes cumbersome application process for federal relief. James Lee Witt, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said checks to disaster victims should begin arriving within 10 days.

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