Storm Damage Assessments Underway In SE Ohio

By
Bethany Venable

Dateline
Updated Mon, Jul 30, 2012 7:59 am
Photo Credit: 
Allison Hunter
A tree falls next to the Athens City building, blocking traffic on Washington Street, following severe weather June 29.

Southeastern Ohio emergency management officials are meeting with federal agency assessors this week to determine how much damage storms from late June caused to the region.

Governor John Kasich last week requested the assessment as a means to get aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
 
Jon Kochis, director of the Fairfield County EMA, says assessors will be looking at public and non-profit entities. 
 
"It's not necessarily damage, it's also the cost to recovery from a storm, road debris clearance, it's not necessarily damage to buildings but it's recovery, is what we call it," said Kochis.
 
So far, they've heard from 20 jurisdictions and two non-profits: the Fairfield County Fairgrounds board and the Geneva Hills Camp.
 
The total estimated storm related expenses is $675,000, says Kochis.
 
"We will probably see more than that as people complete their totals, but that was our estimate that we submitted to the state for consideration for a declaration," he explained.
 
The assessment is only for state agencies, public office and certain nonprofits.  Individuals would not be considered in the decision.
 
Kochis says federal agents will be in Fairfield County on August 2 to meet with jurisdictions and also to hold an open period for anyone want to be included in the process, but has not yet filled out an application.
 
In Athens County, Public Information Officer Dan Pfeiffer says county leaders will meet with FEMA on Tuesday.
 
The county does not have an estimate of storm costs, says Pfeiffer, but will tally that amount with assessors.
 
While totals can seem large, Kochis says people in the business of emergency management plan ahead for disasters and damage, so the storms that ripped through the state on June 29 were surprising, by not shocking.
 
"It wasn't giant hammer out of no where that we didn't expect.  It is Ohio, we do get severe storms and you know, I think we prepare as best we can," said Kochis.
 
But if counties don't get federal help with the cost of storm damage and assistance, that will be funding they'll have to cover on their own, because as Kochis said, it's money already spent.
 
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