Gov. Sanford tours damage sites from storm, thanks volunteers

PETTICOAT JUNCTION -- Gov. Mark Sanford came to Aiken County this morning to tour damage sites from a weekend tornado and to thank those who helped their neighbors pull through.

"I am here simply to say thank you for the response on the local level," the governor said at a stop at the Silver Bluff Fire Station No. 1.

The fire station was destroyed by Friday night's storm and lost three fire trucks.

Mr. Sanford said it is always encouraging when local people come through instead of waiting on federal help.

When asked if there was a chance of state financial aid, the governor said, "There is always that possiblity," but he added that South Carolina doesn't have the reserve funds many other states might have.

Derrec Becker,of the the South Carolina Emergency Management Division, said Monday one assistance method being considered is low-interest disaster loans through the Small Business Administration.

He said he's now sure if the cost of damage meets that threshold either, but he's investigating the possibility.

Mr. Becker said that unfortunately the state of South Carolina doesn't have any reserve for disaster funding in a case such as this.

"We've tried for a number of years to get a disaster trust fund set up to where if we get a disaster like this and it doesn't meet the requirements for federal assistance the state would have money," Mr. Becker said. "But that requires legislation and that's one of those things we have indeed tried to work very hard on but really have made no headway."

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