3 area counties in line to receive storm aid

Three area counties will be eligible to receive federal public assistance if Ohio receives a major disaster declaration for the severe weather that rolled through the state between June 29 and July 2.

Gov. John Kasich made the request of President Barack Obama on Monday, according to Tamara McBride, spokeswoman for the Ohio Emergency Management Agency.

The federal declaration for public assistance seeks reimbursement money for damages caused by the derecho storm that arrived June 29 and the severe thunderstorms that hit July 1. There is no set time frame for the federal government to respond to Kasich’s request.

If Ohio is granted the federal declaration, 37 counties will be eligible to receive reimbursement funds, including Miami, Clark and Champaign. Those counties received a joint preliminary damage assessment from the representatives of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and OEMA.

The results of the the joint preliminary damage assessment found that the storms caused $29,500,355 in costs and damages, McBride said.

The June 29 storm was considered a rare event for the Midwest, a “super” derecho (pronounced: deh-REYcho) or land hurricane. It swept in from Fort Wayne, Ind., and left a 700-mile-wide path of damage on a 12-hour course to Washington, D.C., taking out power to large cities amid a triple-digit summer heat wave. Estimates are that about 4 million customers in the storm’s path lost power.

Some local residents were left without power for days and several local festivals had to either delay or cancel their operations.

Miami County reported $869,703.71 in costs and damages, according to the state’s list of damage assessment figures. The majority of that total was for utilities — $586,076.19. Kenneth Artz, director of the county’s emergency management office, said last month that Pioneer Electric Cooperative in Piqua lost four major distribution lines during the storms.

Clark County, which was one of the hardest hit areas, reported $524,503.57 in costs and damages. The majority of that total was for debris removal, which was $382,663.52. Champaign County reported $140,000 in costs and damages.

Montgomery County’s Office of Emergency Management ended up with $225,673.66 in costs and damage for its jurisdictions that reported damage, according to Cathy Petersen, county spokeswoman. However, the county did not meet the criteria to be included in the joint preliminary damage assessment.

Greene County had county-wide damage and incurred approximately $15,000 in recovery costs.

Franklin County had the largest total amount in costs and damages, with $5.5 million. The majority of that cost was for utilities.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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