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State help possible for flood areas

MONTICELLO — Federal aid to help residents here recover fromthe weekend’s flash flooding is unlikely, emergency officials said,but they may qualify to state funds.

Small Business Administration officials toured flood areasWednesday and said they believe there will be an SBA declaration.The SBA provides low-interest, long-term loans for damagedbusinesses.

Mississippi Emergency Management Agency director Robert Lathamsaid MEMA will make grants available through the Disaster HousingProgram, which gives up to three months of rental assistance tohome owners and one month to renters.

A state of emergency was declared Sunday by Gov. Ronnie Musgroveafter a heavy downpour produced flooding of several feet. Heaviesthit areas were in Rankin and Hinds counties, where some areasreceived 10 inches of rain in less than four hours.

In Monticello, more than three inches of rain fell in 45minutes, according to Mayor David Nichols.

“While we hate that some people did receive some damage, we werelucky we didn’t get any more than we did,” he said. “Three inchesin 45 minutes is a lot of rain.”

According to Nichols, eight businesses, a church, several homesand apartments and some streets were damaged by the high waters.Damaged businesses include Master’s Outreach Ministry, DanceFactory, Robby’s Welding, Henri’s Restaurant, Fannie’s Florist, AllState Insurance, Reid’s Florist and Lawrence County Finance. FirstUnited Methodist Church was also slightly damaged, he said.

The damage could have been far worse than it is, the mayorsaid.

“It’s mainly just in the flooring,” Nichols said. “There couldbe some electrical damage, but we haven’t seen that yet.”

Robert Charles Drive and Broadmeadow Drive were closed Sundaymorning to ease flooding into Westover and Broadmeadow Apartments,respectively. They were reopened later Sunday afternoon.

Quick efforts from the town employees saved some homes, Nicholssaid.

“We had to cut and close Graham Avenue or we would have had fourhouses completely flooded,” he said.

Graham Avenue remains closed and Nichols predicted it would beat least a week to ten days before it would reopen.

“I appreciate the the support of the citizens and the dedicationof the town employees and other volunteers who came out in a timeof need,” he said.

Damage in the county was primarily to the roads and bridges,said Board President and Beat 5 Supervisor Calvin Fortenberry.

“They had quite a bit of damage in Beats 2, 3 and 4,” hesaid.

Lawrence County Civil Defense Director J.D. Johnson said he knewof roads being washed out, but didn’t have anything else to report.He praised the supervisors on their repair efforts.

“Those supervisors are real good about keeping the roads openfor school buses and such,” he said.

Fortenberry said supervisors have been busy since Sundayreplacing washed out culverts to reopen roads.

“They are continuing to work on repairs today,” Fortenberrysaid. “Probably most of it will be done this week, but I can’t sayfor certain.”