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Federal Help Unlikely for Flood Damage to Private Property

Federal Help Unlikely for Flood Damage to Private Property

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ST. GEORGE, Utah (AP) -- Too few homes were damaged by last month's floods in southwestern Utah to qualify the owners for low-interest loans from the Small Business Administration, the state has been told.

"It appears we didn't make the threshold," said Derek Jensen of the Utah Department of Emergency Services and Homeland Security, which applied for the SBA assistance.

To secure the low-interest loans, at least 25 primary residences needed uninsured damage equal to 40 percent of their fair market value.

"We came close but were a few homes short," Jensen told The Salt Lake Tribune.

Twenty-eight homes in St. George and Santa Clara were destroyed or damaged beyond repair by rain-swollen rivers, and another 24 will need extensive repair, but not all of them were primary residences.

"Some of those homes were secondary homes and would not qualify under SBA rules," Jensen said. "There's a threshold established by law that we have to follow."

Officials are exploring the possibility of making another appeal for SBA assistance by combining the private damage in Washington County with the losses that took place in Arizona.

Ernest Webb, whose home was damage beyond repair, was not surprised that homeowners are not eligible for the SBA loans.

"As far as we can see, it's up to the community to help now," Webb said. "We're just going to have to try and be positive."

A private, nonprofit corporation hopes to raise at least $3 million for private flood relief.

Federal and state funds are available for repair of public infrastructure, including roads, bridges and pipelines, that were damaged by the floods.

On Monday, Washington County signed a contract with the Natural Resources Conservation Service to begin accepting bids to restore eroded riverbanks.

The agency estimates $60 million will be needed for the work. So far, $6 million has been released.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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