by Todd DeFeo
President Donald Trump on Tuesday issued a disaster declaration for 10 counties in Ohio affected by severe weather last month.
The declaration “will help those working to rebuild their homes and their lives,” Gov. Mike DeWine said in a statement. It also opens the door for state officials to determine how much federal aid Ohioans may need.
The action applies to 10 counties hit by severe storms, including tornadoes, on May 27 and May 28. The weather killed one and injured at least 385.
“When I spoke with President Trump after these tornadoes, he vowed to provide any assistance he could, and I am grateful that he followed through today on that promise to help those impacted by these storms,” said DeWine. The governor sent a letter to Trump last week asking the president to issue the declaration.
The action opens up several federal programs for residents, including low-interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). With the declaration, the state can apply to the federal government for crisis counseling assistance, disaster unemployment assistance and disaster case management help.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has not released a total amount of how much federal aid might be coming to Ohio, Dan Tierney, press secretary for DeWine, said in an email.
A preliminary damage assessment by FEMA, the SBA and the Ohio Emergency Management Agency (EMA) found the storms destroyed or significantly damaged 942 homes and buildings. The weather caused minor damage to an additional 837 homes and buildings, according to state officials.
“Ohio EMA is currently working with county EMAs to determine if any of the counties impacted by the tornadoes may qualify to request assistance from the public assistance program, which assists local governments with things like infrastructure damage,” Tierney said.
“Today’s Presidential Disaster Declaration opens the door for the state to begin examining the demand for this type of assistance,” Tierney said. “Now, EMA will begin to work with FEMA to open disaster recovery centers where citizens can go for assistance.”
Following the storms, DeWine declared a state of emergency for Greene, Mercer and Montgomery counties. Trump’s declaration applies to Auglaize, Darke, Greene, Hocking, Mercer, Miami, Montgomery, Muskingum, Perry and Pickaway counties.
“The widespread destruction of homes, apartments, and businesses, particularly in the Dayton urban areas, is tragic and will require a recovery process that could stretch over a number of years,” DeWine said in an earlier news release. “Many of the areas affected have a high percentage of low-income families that did not have insurance. These survivors may not have the means to rebuild and/or relocate without additional support.”
– – –