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Northsiders Hope For Aid As They Clean Up Flood Damage

The Metropolitan Sewer District has been investigating reports of backed up sewers after days of rain and some flash flooding. Northside was one of many neighborhoods that reported damage. Community Council President Mary Meinrich says several people whose homes were flooded spoke at a regularly scheduled meeting Monday night.

"Water was turned off. Power was turned off. Gas was turned off. They showed up to the meeting covered in mud, unable to shower, if that gives you any picture," Meinrich says.

MSD Interim Director Diana Christy says a lot of the damage is from flooding, not sewer backups. She says the question is whether a nearby MSD project is directly to blame. "It is clear that the water inundated our basins, washed over them, and went right into the streets and into homes in some instances," Christy says.

She says the basins are under construction to hold storm water runoff and to prevent sewer backups.

"What I can commit to is getting an answer on whether there's some responsibility on MSD or its contractor's part, but I can't provide disaster funding for that immediate response," Christy says.

Community Council President Meinrich says a delay in any kind of aid does have an effect. "This means that basically people who have very little in savings are often forced to find a way to try to clean their homes - which it was indicated should be done as soon as possible - with no assistance."

Some people are wondering if Hamilton County can apply for state and federal emergency funding. The county's emergency manager says it's unclear if enough properties were affected to qualify.

Nick Crossley says the county and the city are looking at homes that were flooded. He says in order to qualify, there would have to be 25 uninsured, privately owned properties with at least 18 inches of water in the first floor. "If you look at the last four years of these events that we've had, we haven't had one. We've had a lot of basements filled, but unfortunately, while an emergency to the people it impacts, it doesn't meet their (state and federal disaster) criteria."

Crossley says in the meantime he's contacted some local private organizations to see if they can help.

He told Hamilton County commissioners that as of Tuesday afternoon, they had found only one building to meet the criteria. Metropolitan Sewer District reports receiving 376 accounts of possible sewer backups. More than 90 of those were referred for cleaning through the Sewer Backup Program.

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