Flood victims to get national, local funds

Local and national funds have been approved for those who sustained losses or damage to their primary residence during the Oct. 21 flash flooding.

“Since this flood hit people who were outside of the floodplain and had no reason to get flood insurance … we have funds available to help those people,” said Josh Schnitzlein, hazard mitigation planner for Lycoming County.

The county commissioners directed the county Planning Department to prioritize funds from two ongoing programs to go to eligible flood-impacted homeowners. Eligible individuals will be those who fit into a certain income bracket, have had their primary residence impacted and who don’t already have flood insurance, Schnitzlein said.

The first, a Supportive Housing Program that partners with STEP Inc., assists homeowners who have reported damage to their primary residence. These funds will be available to victims who have been displaced and need assistance paying rent or mortgage while their home is being repaired, Schnitzlein said.

The second allotment of funds comes from the county Homes in Need-Flood Recovery Program, and will assist individuals in making home repairs.

“This money’s for primary homes,” Schnitzlein said.

In addition, the U.S. Small Business Administration approved funds for Lycoming and Centre counties this week in response to Gov. Tom Wolf’s disaster declaration.

Homeowners, renters and businesses in Centre and Lycoming counties, as well as neighboring counties Blair, Bradford, Clearfield, Clinton, Columbia, Huntingdon, Mifflin, Montour, Northumberland, Potter, Sullivan, Tioga and Union, may be eligible for low-interest disaster loans, Wolf said.

Low-interest loans of up to $200,000 are available to homeowners to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate, and up to $40,000 to repair or replace personal property.

Businesses and nonprofits can borrow up to $2 million to restore damaged or destroyed buildings, inventory, equipment and assets.

Disaster Loan Outreach Centers have been set up in both Lycoming and Centre counties. The centers are located at the Department of Public Safety, Lysock Complex at 542 County Farm Road, Loyalsock Township, and at the Office of Emergency Services, Willowbank Office Building, 420 Holmes St., Bellefonte.

For individuals unable to come to the centers in person, an online loan application can be found at  www.sba.gov/disaster. The filing deadline to return applications for physical property damage is Jan. 17, 2017. The deadline to return economic injury applications is Aug. 18, 2017.

Wolf signed two disaster declaration requests, one was sent to the small business administration and another to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The FEMA request has yet to be approved.

Schnitzlein said that if the FEMA request is approved the county may reevaluate how much money it needs to devote. Currently, the county is devoting funds to individuals who may also be eligible for FEMA funds in the future.

“If FEMA were to come in with individual assistance that would be really great,” Schnitzlein said.

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