Some of Pa. surplus fund may go to those hard hit by storms

    A bipartisan group of Pennsylvania senators is proposing additional flood relief, including increasing the amount of money those hard hit by recent flooding are eligible to receive to cover damages.

    Federal aid is capped at just over $30,000 for those applying for assistance after the Irene-Lee double-whammy.

    Sen. Lisa Baker, a Republican of Luzerne County, said Monday that’s just not enough for some in her district—such as one man she met during a tour of a flooded area.

    “Both sides of his house were on separate sides of the street, and he didn’t’ know where his garage ended up,” Baker said. “They’re not facing just a small amount of damage. They’re facing devastating damage, so it’s going to be, in some cases I think, well beyond what they’re entitled to at the federal level.”

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    The senators say it’s too soon to put a price tag on the proposal. Flood assessments are still coming in and some people have yet to register for aid.

    Baker said the money for extra state relief for individuals can come out of Pennsylvania’s surplus tax revenue. At the end of June, that was more than $700 million.

    The senators also want Pennsylvania to borrow millions to repair flood-damaged highways and bridges.

    Their proposal, if passed, would authorize a $250 million bond to pay for repairing highways and bridges.

    Republican Sen. John Gordner of Columbia County said that’s a rough estimate–it may be tweaked to reflect additional damage reports or federal aid that becomes available.

    “While we want to move quickly, we don’t want to overly rush into something without knowing what we need because the totality of what the federal government is going to provide to Pennsylvania hasn’t been determined yet,” he said.

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