U.S. Approves $14 Million for N.H. Flood Victims

The federal government has approved nearly $14 million in grants and loans for New Ham[pshire residents and businesses hit by flooding in May.

Since President Bush signed off on a disaster declaration for six of the state’s counties, more than 4,600 applications for assistance have been filed with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which offers several programs to help victims make repairs, pay rent and replace damaged clothing, furniture and other property.

Those who qualified are receiving more than $6.7 million in grants. The Small Business Administration has approved more than $7 million in home and business loans.

George Long of Stratham ended up with a foot of water in his basement during the flooding, enough to crack his boiler and furnace and destroy his freezer. He called FEMA at the urging of a friend and got a call back five hours later. The next day, an inspector spent nearly an hour at his home. Soon after, he received a check for $3,500.

“It was amazing,” Long said. “It was the most fabulous experience I had with the government and a model of efficiency.”

“There were no hassles, no bureaucracy,” he said.

In Hampton, Debbie Rahn received $6,400 to help replace carpets, sheet rock and damaged furniture. She and her family were forced out of their home for nearly a week.

“Both my husband and I were very impressed with how fast they responded. They were very professional, very friendly. We asked them some questions, and they basically said you’d have a check within five to seven days. We got a check within that time.”

Kim Pease. a FEMA spokeswoman, said the goal is to provide enough money to make people safe and secure, not necessarily restore their property to its pre-flooding condition. She advises residents and business owners with flood damage to fill out loan applications from the Small Business Administration first, and if they don’t qualify, FEMA will check whether other programs are available.