Clark County storm, flood damage nearly $45K so far

Disaster loan outreach center opens Tuesday in Bethel Twp.

Early damage estimates from a severe thunderstorm that buckled roads and forced more than 100 families to evacuate their homes last month total nearly $45,000 so far, according to the Clark County Emergency Management Agency.

That total will likely climb, though, because estimates on private property losses are still unknown.

Clark County EMA Director Lisa D’Allessandris released the preliminary damage estimates on Monday, days after the U.S. Small Business Administration declared Clark County a disaster area due to the May 21-22 storm that caused severe flooding in Bethel, German and Mad River townships.

The declaration means businesses and residents like Donna Wendling who suffered uninsured losses can apply the Disaster Loan Outreach Center in Clark County for low-interest loans to replace items lost.

The center, at the Bethel Twp. Fire Station, 3333 Lake Road in Medway, opens at 9 a.m. today.

“If they’ve had any damage or losses at all, we’re encouraging them to at least speak with the SBA so they can make an informed decision,” D’Allessandris said.

Wendling, 48, who lived at the Laynecrest Manor Apartments on Gerlaugh Road, said she plans to apply for the loans.

Wendling was among hundreds of residents rescued by firefighters at 3 a.m. from waist-deep water after the storm dumped more than 5 inches of rain in the area in just two hours in some parts of Clark County.

Thirty-nine of the 48 units at the apartment complex had 18 inches or more of water in the first floor living area, D’Allessandris said.

The storm also broke a culvert at the Little Miami Scenic Trail and created a 10-feet deep hole along the trail. Runoff from the heavy rain washed out Lambers Drive in Park Layne, forcing the township to close the road.

And in neighboring counties, parts of Interstate 70 overflowed with water, closing the highway for hours.

Wendling said she and her husband’s cars were submerged in the water at their apartment complex and she was forced to leave much of what they had behind.

“I knew immediately we were going to lose everything. I knew we had to get out, but I didn’t know it was going to be as bad as it was,” she said.

Wendling managed to save some photos and her children’s drawings, she said, but most of what the family had is gone.

“It’s been really rough, because we moved in with no furniture at all,” Wendling said while sitting outside of her new apartment.

She and her family moved into her new place about a week and a half ago and has been surviving on donations from the community and her new apartment manager.

She and her husband have received donated bedroom sets and food, she said, but added that starting over has been difficult.

“This is setting us back. I’ve already cried, I’ve been mad about it. I’m tired now,” Wendling said. “I never imagined that we were going to have to turn our lives upside down and start over.”

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