LOGAN — Given the recent severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds, flooding and landslides in the state last month, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine requested Tuesday for President Donald Trump to make a disaster declaration and for federal assistance for the 10 Ohio counties impacted.
The counties impacted by a total of 21 tornadoes were Auglaize, Darke, Greene, Hocking, Mercer, Miami, Montgomery, Muskingum, Perry, and Pickaway counties during the severe storms that passed through Ohio on the evening of May 27 and into May 28.
“These storms resulted in a disaster of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capability of the State of Ohio and affected local governments,” stated DeWine. “Federal assistance is necessary to supplement the efforts and available resources of the state, local governments, disaster relief organizations, and compensation by insurance for disaster-related losses.”
Last week, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Small Business Administration (SBA), and Ohio Emergency Management Agency (EMA) conducted a preliminary damage assessment throughout the state. These agencies identified 942 homes and buildings that were either destroyed or significantly damaged and 837 additional homes and buildings that suffered minor damage or were slightly affected.
“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,” expressed DeWine. “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.”
In Hocking County, the National Weather Service (NWS) confirmed an EF-2 tornado touchdown on Tuesday, May 28, 2019, between the hours of 1:17 a.m. and 1:28 a.m. in the Village of Laurelville and Perry Township. The tornado had maximum wind speeds of 125 miles per hour, a width of 400 yards, and a path that was 5.3 miles long.
Multiple homes were affected by the tornado, several with major damage and two destroyed. Area reports indicated that some families were displaced from their homes and they are currently staying in nearby hotels or with family and friends.
The Preliminary Damage Assessment team confirmed the initial damage assessment stating several homes displayed damages ranging from roof and shingle damage, windows, and up to complete destruction. There were also many garages and barns with similar ranges of damage. Thousands of trees were destroyed, two small cabin rental businesses reported damage and utilities were reported to be out for a maximum of three days.
Now that the damage and survey assessments have been completed, the total estimated damage from the Hocking County Auditor’s Office, apart from business losses, is $1,026,360.
On Thursday, May 30, the Hocking County Commissioners made an emergency proclamation due to the damage created by the tornado that occurred the morning after Memorial Day.
DeWine requested that the 10 counties be eligible for assistance from the following programs:
• Individual Assistance Program
• Crisis Counseling Assistance Program
• Disaster Unemployment Assistance Program
• Disaster Case Management Program
• Disaster Legal Services Program
• Hazard Mitigation Grant Program
DeWine also requested assistance from the Small Business Administration.
“As far as recovery is concerned, it’s a matter of the whole community coming together to help these people with the debris. Don’t just go down and sight-see — throw a chainsaw in the back of your car and ask them if they need help,” shared Hocking County EMA Director, Cesalie Gustafson.
Those who would like to help in some way with recovery efforts can contact the Hocking County EMA office. Anyone who would like to make a monetary donation should contact the Hocking Hills Chamber of Commerce to donate to one of its foundation accounts. Make the check out to the Hocking Hills Chamber of Commerce, but in the memo line indicate Long-Term Recovery Team Foundation Account.