New committee formed to help flood victims

Danielle Roberts and her children want their lives back. Now efforts are underway to address their ongoing needs, and those of other flood victims, through a Long Term Recovery Committee.

The committee — a collaborative effort by local government officials, the Salvation Army, Red Cross, the United Way and other local agencies and businesses — will help victims of the spring floods as well as those harmed by future disasters.The group’s goal is to make it easier for local residents harmed by natural disasters get financial assistance and other resources they need to get their lives back on track, said Clark County Commissioner Rick Lohnes.

“We are here to support the families who have lost everything, and assist them with rebuilding their lives,” Lohnes said.

Roberts, 38, and her children, ages 17 and 15, who lived in the Laynecrest Manor apartment complex in Medway, lost everything after flash flooding forced them and more than 100 others out of their homes last month.

“I never dreamed anything like this would happen to me … It’s very devastating to have to go through,” Roberts said.

Clark County emergency response agencies helped them find shelter and assisted with other immediate needs after the storm. The new LTRC is designed to help families like theirs get assistance from here forward.

On May 21-22, torrential rain caused severe flooding at Laynecrest and nine homes in parts of Clark County. It damaged roads and displaced more than 100 adults and children in Bethel, German and Mad River townships.

It also broke a culvert at the Little Miami Scenic Trail and created a hole that is 10 feet deep along the trail.

The U.S. Small Business Administration declared Clark County a disaster area earlier this month. That allows residents and businesses in Clark, Champaign, Greene, Madison, Miami and Montgomery counties that incurred uninsured losses during the storm to apply for long-term, low-interest loans.

But Roberts, who makes $11.25 per hour, and many others do not qualify for the loans.

Roberts’ truck was submerged in water and she no longer has transportation. She’s relying on donations and welfare assistance to get back on her feet, but still needs furniture and other items to replace what she’s lost.

LTRC President and Clark County Emergency Management Agency Director Lisa D’Allessandris said the committee will serve as a task force to help displaced families like Roberts’.

Families will be provided a case manager who can help them find permanent housing, furniture, food, clothing and get spiritual and emotional support.

“We realized we had a lot of unmet needs, so we’re trying to figure out the best way to meet those needs,” D’Allessandris said.

The local committee is modeled in part after the Clermont County LTRC, which formed in 2012 after a F-3 tornado struck a village in the area.

Clermont County EMA Director Pam Haverkos said the committee helped 60 families, managed donations and volunteer efforts and ensured that area agencies were not duplicating those efforts.

“Every case is unique. It runs the gamut of what they needed to get back on their feet,” Haverkos said.

Roberts said she has a new home, but she knows others are still struggling.

“It’s been a long haul,” Roberts said. “You really don’t understand how people feel when they lose everything until you go through it yourself.”

Residents who need help should call the local information referral line at 2-1-1 or 937-323-1400.

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