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FEMA offers flood-damage advice

August 08, 2006|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. - The Federal Emergency Management Agency has set up shop at Lowe's Home Improvement Center, 1600 Lincoln Way East, this week to give advice on repairing flood-damaged properties and lessening chances of future flood damage.

"We're trying to identify folks that have had flood damage. This is an outreach," said Mary Ann Basarab, a hazard mitigation adviser with FEMA. While advising on issues such as mold and water, she said, "we can introduce them to the National Flood Insurance Program."

Frank Csordos of Chambersburg said his basement problems predate the June flooding that damaged hundreds of properties in Franklin County. He said they started a few years ago, right after he bought his house.

"I've been fighting ever since then to get the moisture out of there," Csordos said. "I've got four dehumidifiers running."

Basarab gave Csordos information about possible assistance he might get through FEMA and urged him and others to consider flood insurance.

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"The goal is to reduce flood damage by flood-plain management and to get people to get flood insurance," FEMA spokesman Mark Harper said of the mitigation program. That includes working with local governments to restrict new construction in flood-prone areas, he said.

"There's a lot of confusion about flood insurance and who should get it," Harper said.

One woman at Lowe's said flood insurance does not cover basements, but Basarab pointed out that it covers much of the mechanical damage that basement flooding can cause.

The cost of premiums, she said, varies according to the level of risk faced by a property owner.

Available at Lowe's are a number of FEMA publications and pamphlets about mitigating the risk of damage from future flooding. Basarab said that includes elevating or relocating appliances, electrical panels, furnaces, water heaters and other household mechanical equipment. There are also tips on repairs, water-resistant building materials, and cleaning up mold and mildew.

Many of the properties damaged in Franklin County were in mobile home parks along Conococheague Creek, and the publications include information about elevating mobile homes and securing fuel tanks. A number of mobile homes lost oil and propane tanks when they floated away with the rising waters.

FEMA will have advisers at Lowe's from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. through Sunday.

"My function is mostly to answer questions and cut through red tape" on programs offered through FEMA, said Elizabeth Morris, an applicant-services representative from Missouri. Like Basarab, who hails from Montana, she has been assisting at outreach posts in Pennsylvania in recent weeks, having previously been in Wilkes-Barre and Scranton.

Time is running out for those who might benefit from disaster-relief programs offered by FEMA in this state. In a joint announcement Monday, FEMA and the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency stated that Sept. 2 is the deadline for homeowners, renters and business owners in Franklin and 21 other counties to register.

People can register by calling 1-800-621-3362 or do so online at www.fema.gov.




Disaster-relief registration



Sept. 2 is the deadline for homeowners, renters and business owners in Franklin and 21 other counties in Pennsylvania to register with FEMA for disaster relief. Register by calling 1-800-621-3362 or by going online to www.fema.gov.

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