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Federal aid requested for flood victims

Milesburg resident Zach Gay looks out over a flooded street on Oct. 21. Gov. Tom Wolf officially declared the flooding that hit parts of Centre County in October a disaster on Wednesday, opening the way for federal assistance.
Milesburg resident Zach Gay looks out over a flooded street on Oct. 21. Gov. Tom Wolf officially declared the flooding that hit parts of Centre County in October a disaster on Wednesday, opening the way for federal assistance. Centre Daily Times, file

The flooding that hit Centre County in October was a disaster.

That was made official Wednesday when Gov. Tom Wolf signed a disaster proclamation.

His action opens the way for the four counties that were hit with high water Oct. 21 to receive help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Small Business Administration.

“After my trip there right after the flooding, I understood that the devastation in north-central Pennsylvania is more significant and wide-spread than we have seen recently in the commonwealth. These two programs are the best options available to provide financial assistance to both local governments and citizens who have been impacted by this flooding,” said Wolf. “We’ve worked closely with local, county and state partners on multiple damage assessments, and we are confident that we meet the federal criteria for both declarations.”

State estimates put the total damage for Centre, Bradford, Lycoming and Sullivan counties at $33.2 million.

Centre County alone estimates the floodwaters caused $2 million in damage to infrastructure like roads and bridges.

The county’s needs do not rise to the $18.1 million requirement for FEMA intervention, but the combined impact on the four counties does exceed that threshold.

According to Wolf’s office, if his request is approved, “applicants can be reimbursed up to 75 percent of the costs incurred on eligible expenses.”

The SBA declaration has different goals and requirements. It would provide low-interest loans to homeowners, renters and businesses with uninsured losses of 40 percent or more of their estimated fair market value. The SBA requires a minimum of 25 potential applicants.

Centre County officials say they had more than 400 properties damaged by the flooding.

“This is wonderful news,” said state Rep. Mike Hanna, D-Lock Haven. “Our region endured devastating damages, and many do not know where to turn, so every bit of assistance helps. It is my hope that between the SBA program and FEMA aid, residents will be able to get back on their feet.”

Lori Falce: 814-235-3910, @LoriFalce

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