Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland declared a disaster for Athens, Meigs and Perry counties Wednesday, identifying up to $1.6 million in state assistance to help residents with their recovery from the severe storms that struck Ohio Thursday. The assistance will be contingent upon approval by the State Controlling Board.
Strickland is encouraging the U.S. Small Business Administration to issue a disaster declaration for Athens County, so Meigs County can qualify, also. Earlier this week, his office announced there would be no point in seeking assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency because damage estimates and affected population requirements were not met. Local officials expressed disappointment, but called on the community to continue their support of their neighbors.
If Athens County is approved for disaster assistance through the SBA, bordering counties affected by the same storm system will also qualify, Strickland’s office said. The SBA must conduct a survey of damage in Athens County for a disaster declaration.
“I saw firsthand Friday the damage suffered by residents in southeastern Ohio, and I want to let these Ohioans know we will do everything we can to provide the support they need.”
“Because these counties did not qualify for FEMA assistance does not mean we are giving up. We continue to stand by those affected, and we believe these resources will help families get back on their feet,” Strickland said.
Strickland urged the federal SBA to also issue a disaster declaration so residents can also make use of loan assistance to start rebuilding their homes, businesses and churches.
Meanwhile, Emergency Management Agency Director Robert Byer said Senator Jimmy Stewart, R-Albany, and county commissioners, particularly, worked with the Ohio EMA in securing the declaration.
The F-3 tornado system caused $2 million in damage to homes in the Eden Ridge community on Ohio 124 near Reedsville, 31 of which were considered totally destroyed.
The Ohio EMA opened a hotline at noon yesterday to assist residents impacted by the severe storms, tornado and high winds that impacted Ohio last week.The hotline, (800) 545-0553 will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.
“Ohio EMA is exploring every possible option for providing assistance to those impacted by these storms,” said Ohio Department of Public Safety Director Thomas J. Stickrath. “Our staff will closely monitor the progression of the Small Business Administration declaration and will administer the State Supplemental Assistance as efficiently as possible.”
State Supplemental Assistance is intended for uninsured homeowners and renters for eligible real property and personal property damages or losses. This is in addition to the state resources that have been supporting impacted counties since the time of the storms last Thursday.
In response to this event, last week, the State Operations Center opened the assessment room and began damage assessment and monitoring immediately. The Ohio Department of Transportation cleared state highways, and the Ohio State Highway Patrol assisted local law enforcement with safety and security by supplying units that assisted with traffic and crowd control.
The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency provided technical assistance during clean up efforts after a transformer was knocked down by winds. Ohio EMA supported local authorities as the Region 4 Collapse Search and Rescue Team began assembling in “stand by” mode.
Ohio EMA also coordinated the request of more than 200 tarps through the Red Cross to the impacted communities. State resources remain available for any continuing needs.
The Ohio Emergency Management Agency Web site provides information, at www.ema.ohio.gov.