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Emergency officials: applications for disaster assistance off to slow start

Federal disaster officials say applications for assistance for damaged caused by winter storms and flooding are off to a slow start.

It's only been about a week since President Bush declared 18 Ohio counties federal disaster areas, but so far officials say the number of applications for assistance has been underwhelming.

750 had applied for assistance as of last week. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) spokesman Sam Ventura blames the slow initial response on the long time it took to assess the damage and declare the disaster.

He says people may have fixed the damage and moved on. The other reason is the flooding was not centralized.

The declaration means residents and business owners in those counties who suffered damage because of ice storms and flooding are eligible for federal grants and loans. The counties were residents are eligible for individual grants are: Athens, Belmont, Clark, Coshocton, Crawford, Delaware, Franklin, Henry, Jefferson, Logan, Morgan, Muskingum, Pickaway, Pike, Ross, Scioto, Warren and Washington.

Officials expect the pace of applications to quicken. To apply for assistance, victims are urged to call FEMA at 1-800-621-3362 or go to their website - http://www.fema.gov.

The application deadline is April 16th.

Mike Thompson spends much of his time correcting people who mispronounce the name of his hometown – Worcester, Massachusetts. Mike studied broadcast journalism at Syracuse University when he was not running in circles – as a distance runner on the SU track team.