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Storm damage information requested

Saturday, July 17, 2004



Cathy Maurer had a tree damage her house. So did Mike Galloway. Countless homes around the county went without power for two to three days.

These are only a few of the reported damages resulting from Tuesday's storm. Though it was on a smaller scale than last July's downpours, Clay County residents and townships on the whole still paid a heavy toll in the storm.

The only problem is, nobody knows how much damage was caused.

County Emergency Management Director Gerri Husband is waiting on figures to submit to the state. When these numbers are submitted, the state will decide whether the county is in need of emergency assistance. If they decide it is, they will petition the federal government.

"The quicker we get the information, the better," she said. "The state and federal government are both very quick to move on these."

Husband said counties around the state are scrambling to get a ballpark figure on damages they received. She's talked with offices on county and city levels to try to gain a grasp on what Clay County lost. For instance, the county highway office has clocked extra overtime hours for its workers, sending them to clear branches from roadways.

Still, she can't do it all by herself. To get a more accurate read on the county's needs, she said, residents must tell her about the damages they received. Her job, documenting the information and passing it along to the state, helps expedite the federal aid process.

Residents who took it upon themselves to pay for damages to their property may also be eligible for disaster aid. Husband said the important thing is that a citizen document what they spent on repairs through pictures and receipts.

"Many people will just look at their loss and think they have to pay the deductible and move on," she said. "If it's a big loss, however, we need to take a look at it."

Husband said the she has only spoken to a couple of people, and those conversations pertained to emergency needs -- those who require electricity to use medical equipment and other, similar situations.

"I haven't had any numbers to submit to the state," she said.

Each county is responsible for the numbers it passes on to the state. Besides property owners, she said, town boards and other governmental agencies should approach her with approximate figures on what the storm cost them.

If the county does become eligible for federal aid, a special 800 number will be established, allowing residents to attain information from -- and submit claims to -- the government.

To report damages to the Emergency Management Office, call 448-8400.

The Red Cross has also been in Clay and surrounding counties, dispatching trained disaster relief workers. The organization has offered assistance to those who need immediate help due to the storm. Persons in Clay, Parke, Vermillion, Greene, Sullivan, and Vigo counties needing temporary shelter or food can contact the Wabash Valley Red Cross at (812) 232-3395.

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