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Pa. officials assess flood damage

July 06, 2006|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Federal officials estimate 153 mobile homes were destroyed and another 31 sustained major damage in last week's flooding in Franklin County, according to a preliminary damage assessment.

Officials from the county and Greene Township on Wednesday took Federal Emergency Management Agency and Small Business Administration officials through the hardest-hit areas, the Northwood, Village Green Manor and Lincoln Dell mobile home parks, county Director of Emergency Services Jerry Flasher said Wednesday afternoon at Chambersburg Area Middle School, where the American Red Cross has set up a relief center. The damage assessments are based on FEMA guidelines, he said.

Two dozen other mobile homes sustained some level of damage and 14 houses had major damage, Flasher said. There was no dollar figure for the damage assessments, he said.

The information will be forwarded to the federal government for a possible disaster declaration by the president, Flasher said. Wednesday's assessment was of private property, and a separate one will be done to determine damage to roads, sewer and water systems, and other public property, Flasher said.


If a federal disaster is declared, Flasher said there will be a toll-free number for people to call to register for an individual assessment. Flasher said he did not know when that determination will be made.

Many residents of the parks have moved back home, and Wednesday night at Northwood, children rode bicycles through streets that were ankle- or knee-deep in a muddy torrent seven days ago.

"The Red Cross has been nothing but great. They came down here and gave us three meals a day," said Matt McClure, who has lived at Northwood for 22 years. McClure went to the Village Green Manor park on Mickey Inn Road on Wednesday to sign up for a Red Cross clothing voucher, but "there were just so many people," he decided he would try again today.

"We're waiting to see if we get some kind of assistance," McClure said. McClure said he had not spoken with anyone from FEMA.

"We caught as much hell as we can handle, or we can afford to handle," McClure said.

Some residents cannot pay for repairs, while others are wondering if they should make repairs before knowing if they will be eligible for reimbursement.

Flasher said residents should take pictures of damage and document any repairs made. Those living outside the mobile home parks whose homes were damaged by the flooding should contact their municipality for advice, he said.

Clem Mallot of Commonwealth Code Inspection Services said he has marked some structures uninhabitable.

"It's probably not as scary as it sounds," Mallot said. "A couple of them had their piers knocked out" and could be reoccupied when the foundations are shored up.

Seven families are being advised to move at this point, Greene Township Supervisor Charles D. Jamison said Wednesday.

The Red Cross has been preparing and delivering 800 meals a day from the middle school, said Laura DiPasqua, the director of Emergency Services for the Greater Erie (Pa.) Chapter of the American Red Cross. The Red Cross has three mobile feeding units staffed by nine people serving the parks and about 10 caseworkers and other personnel attending to residents' needs, she said.

In addition to vouchers for clothing, DiPasqua said the Red Cross is planning bulk distribution of cleanup kits with cleansers, sanitizers, brooms and other items, along with "comfort kits" with personal hygiene items.

While the Red Cross established an emergency shelter at the middle school, "no one took advantage of it," DiPasqua said. "Folks want to live in their homes."

By the numbers

According to a preliminary damage assessment announced Wednesday, Franklin County suffered the following damage as a result of heavy rains last week:

- 153 mobile homes were destroyed

- 31 mobile homes sustained major damage

- Two dozen mobile homes sustained some level of damage

- 14 houses had major damage

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