Mass. Spring Flood Victims File 10,000 FEMA Claims

August 10, 2006

More than 10,000 individuals, households and businesses have filed claims with the Federal Emergency Management Agency for this spring’s flooding in northeastern Massachusetts that was the worst in 70 years.

“It didn’t impact the number of people that Hurricane Katrina did or have the widespread loss of life,” FEMA spokesman Brian Hvinden told The Boston Globe. “But to these individuals, it’s a major loss of life.”

A total of $17.5 million in grants, with more expected for those who filed up to the Sunday deadline, have been approved for disaster areas in Essex, Middlesex and Suffolk counties, where more than a foot of rain over several days in May drove more than 4,000 people from their homes.

Peter Judge, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, said the deadline to file claims was extended by two weeks, and 500 more people registered.

The Small Business Administration also has approved an additional $27 million in low-interest loans.

Hvinden told the Globe that about 80 percent of the claims have been approved. Those that were rejected included damage occurring outside the May 12-23 disaster period, or were filed by people already covered by flood insurance.

Peabody led other communities with just over 1,000 claims, followed by Lynn with 624, Melrose with 623 and Lawrence with 575, according to FEMA.

Peabody Mayor Michael Bonfanti said the city is replacing pipes and infrastructure to help prevent a repeat of the high water that swamped downtown, but said the city still needs about $10 million to upgrade its flood control.

So far, about $1.3 million has been approved to aid governments with flood prevention efforts, FEMA said.

Judge said work on getting local aid is still ongoing.

“Nobody wants a repeat of this,” Judge told the Globe. “This was obviously an event of historical proportions. … Now we’ve been through this, and we’ve investigated firsthand on the local level what the issues will be.”

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