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Seeking a presidential disaster declaration

FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, came to York County on Sept. 25 to assess individual storm damage from the Aug. 31 flooding.

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The tour was similar to the one done the prior week with the U.S. Small Business Administration's assessment. But while that tour had a specific formula relating to damage and a property's assessed value, FEMA wanted to see impact.

Is a home destroyed or severly damaged? How many walls were destroyed?

The York County Office of Emergency Management took two of FEMA's recovery division specialists around Hellam and Chanceford townships. The goal is a federal disaster declaration, which is issued by the president.

But what does that mean?

There is, on the Electronic Code of Federal Regulations, a title, chapter, subchapter, part and subpart that, in many words, details factors considered when evaluating a governor's request for a major disaster declaration.

Both Small Business Administration and FEMA assistance for residents would require a federal disaster declaration. The difference between the two is that Small Business Adminstration typically offers low-interest loans. FEMA offers money, with limits and restrictions, of course. 

Paperwork from recent assessments is being handled by PEMA and FEMA. Once completed, the governor must sign off to submit our application to the federal govermnent, at which point it will be out of our hands. 

We're hopeful for some financial assistance. The community needs help. But nothing is guaranteed.

Four weeks later, as York County continues to recover from an unprecedented flooding event, it is evident that areas of our community were hit even harder than some had initially thought.

-- Mark Walters, public information officer for York County 

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