Federal aid for homeowners with flooded basements and family rooms comes with criteria catch

Bedroom needed in flooded basement for FEMA aid

NORTH RIDGEVILLE, Ohio - Ten days after the big flood, Barb Sutton is still sanitizing her North Ridgeville home, where she raised her family and has lived for 43 years. She's had seven major floods in her Gina Road home over the years.

Barb's insurance canceled her policy a couple floods ago, now she and other flood victims in Lorain County could be eligible for federal aid, but there's a catch.

Related: One week after flooding North Ridgeville residents pack city council meeting demanding changes

Lorain County Emergency Management Agency Director Tom Kelly said FEMA stipulates the county has to have 25 destroyed homes.

For flooded basements and family rooms to qualify toward the counties magic number of 25 homes, those basements and family rooms would have to be considered living quarters which means they would have to have a bedroom.

"I could show FEMA 15,000 homes with six inches of water, but if they don't see 25 destroyed living quarters then, no aid," Kelly said.

Related: Cuyahoga Falls Mayor Don Walters declares state of emergency due to flooding from May 12

Meanwhile, the recent census shows North Ridgeville's population grew by nearly 2,000 people.

Barb says the city's storm and sewer lines are already overwhelmed.

"They want to widen Center Ridge Road with more lanes and more concrete, but they can't handle the runoff now. Our road only has eight-inch lines," Sutton said.

Kelly said if Lorain County has 25 homes deemed to have destroyed living quarters in the basement or family room, then all other flood victims could be eligible for low interest loans, even if their basements or family rooms don't have bedrooms.

State officials have already toured flooded homes in Lorain County, now federal officials will do the same in the coming days.

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