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Federal officials, local representatives reviewing Elk Co. flood impact

Updated: Friday, May 23 2014, 05:21 PM EDT

Reported By: Deven Clarke
Written By: Marc Stempka

RIDGWAY, Pa. -- State, local and federal officials gathered in the hardest hit Elk County community to review the devastating flooding that stuck earlier this week for help working ways to ensure a proper recovery takes place.

The leaders came together to review what happened - by looking at slideshows of the flooding - and to pledge their support to the residents who were affected when the Clarion River overflowed its banks Wednesday morning.

The Elk County commissioners, a representative from state Rep. Matt Gabler, U.S. Rep. Glenn Thompson, the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency and other emergency coordinators were present at the meetings.

Thompson was shocked by the amount of destruction caused by the heavy rains and subsequent flooding.

"Probably over 500 [people] total had to be evacuated. Just countless people displaced, businesses have been displaced," Thompson said. "Thankfully no loss of life and no injuries, that in itself is a true blessing."

In addition to buildings and homes, Ridgway borough council president Kim Zimmerman said the town's reservoir was also affected.

"The water turned brown, very dark brown, from all the mud and stuff, and all that means is we have to take extra adjustments and precautionary measures with our water purification to either add or increase different chemicals," Zimmerman said.

Zimmerman said the water is safe to drink and use as normal.

Elk County commissioner Janis Kemmer said the community's spirit is surging high despite the rebuilding that needs to take place.

"It's such a blessing about living in a small town or in Elk County, everybody is willing to help their neighbor," Kemmer said. "It's a neighbor helping neighbor situation."

As officials continue to review the damage, their goal is to make sure those affected receive some kind of assistance.

"There is a process and the state is in the middle of collecting data, PEMA is, and it really is driven by the collection of the assessment of what the damage is," Zimmerman said.

Zimmerman said anyone in Ridgway who suffered a loss during the flood is to report the damages to the borough office, which will help gather the data needed for an overall assessment.

Federal officials, local representatives reviewing Elk Co. flood impact

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Edgar Snyder

Washington Times