Ohio2006 Blog

News, analysis, and comments on Ohio elections.

Friday, August 11

Cong. OH-14: LaTourette (R) Flood Aid Promise Broken

Memories of the Katrina relief fiasco are stirring in the eastern part of flood-ravaged Ashtabula County. Many homeowners there suffered severe flood damage from at least seven inches of rain that fell on July 22-23, earlier by several days than the heavy rains starting July 27 that flooded the much more affluent western part of Ashtabula County. When George Bush declared Lake, Geauga, and Ashtabula Counties to be a major disaster area, thus qualifying residents for disaster assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the order was restricted to the flooding that started on July 27. As a result, the less affluent (and more predominantly Democratic) flood victims of eastern Ashtabula County were left to fend for themselves. Lou Sosler of the Ashtabula County Emergency Management Agency confirmed to me that FEMA assistance is not available to victims of flooding that occurred before July 27.

On August 4, a robo-call from incumbent Rep. Stephen LaTourette (R-Painesville) went out to residents of Ashtabula County, promising federal aid for those harmed by the recent flooding. The call made no distinction between the earlier and later flooding, and was received by residents in the east as well as the west. Hundreds of eastern Ashtabula County residents accepted LaTourette's promise at face value and subsequently found it to be empty.

Lewis Katz (D-Pepper Pike), running against LaTourette, is angry. He says that "federal assistance should be available to people who suffered damages from both disastrous rains." The less affluent residents of the eastern portion of the county had no local disaster recovery center set up for them (as was done in the western part of the county), and their claims for relief were denied. "Once again," Katz points out, "the federal government is failing to help the people who need it the most."

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