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Area homeowners eligible for funds in wake of storms

October 02, 2004|By PEPPER BALLARD

BOONSBORO - When a twister ripped the roof off Lonnie Leggett's Barnes Road home, the deck off his pool and the branches off his favorite tree, the Boonsboro man said he wasn't sure what he would do.

But on Friday, on a day that Leggett was salvaging items from his attic and surveying a large tree that has straddled his gravel driveway since the tornado hit two weeks ago, Leggett expressed relief at hearing news that might help him clean up the mess left by the remnants of Hurricane Ivan.

On Thursday, Gov. Robert Ehrlich requested federal disaster assistance for residents and businesses in five counties, including Washington County, that sustained significant damage from the remnants of hurricanes Ivan and Frances.

Ehrlich specifically requested aid under the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Individual Assistance Programs. Those programs include low-interest loans, cash grants of up to $25,000 per individual or household, and tax refunds.

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He also requested hazard mitigation assistance and loan assistance statewide. Hazard mitigation addresses structural or environmental damage, such as restoring stream beds or elevating housing in flood-prone areas.

The aid would enable qualified disaster victims in Allegany, Cecil, Frederick, Harford and Washington counties to obtain loans and grants for damage to private property, the Maryland Emergency Management Agency said.

Frances struck Maryland Sept. 8, causing floods, mudslides, road closures and power outages in Allegany and Washington counties. Ivan's remnants arrived Sept. 17, spawning tornadoes and violent thunderstorms in Cecil, Harford, Frederick and Washington counties.

Leggett, whose 8634 Barnes Road home was condemned as a result of the tornado's damage, said that a contractor told him his house sustained between $50,000 and $70,000 worth of damage.

Statewide, the storms destroyed five homes and damaged 307 others, according to an assessment conducted last week by federal and state emergency management workers. Four businesses and a farm were also damaged, they found.

Jim Shifler's farm on Barnes Road - just up the street from Leggett - sustained its share of tornado damage.

Six of the seven bright white painted wooden structures on his property - sheds, barns and a house - were damaged from the tornado. A small wash house was the only structure spared.

Among all the buildings, Shifler said there was between $30,000 and $40,000 worth of damage. He said he might check into the aid that now is being offered.

"I'm not a poor fellow," he said. "I'd rather somebody else have the money who has a bigger need for it."

Following the storm, the rows of cornfield on the farm, which is farmed by Brian Baker, were ruffled in every which way, but since have been cut down.

Baker, 39, said he lost about 10 acres of corn, about a $5,000 loss, out of the 300 acres he farms.

He said he's not sure there would be any relief in state aid for his crops.

"I've not had good luck with government programs," he said.

He didn't have good luck when the tornado hit, either: He lost part of his house's roof, his back porch, his children's' swingset, a shed and a rabbit.

"It could have been a lot worse," he said.

Leggett said it hasn't been easy. He had lived in his now-condemned Barnes Road home for about 31 years and is now in the process of a divorce.

"This is hard to accept that you're losing everything at once," he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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