131 homes confirmed damaged

FEMA to visit Thursday

By Melody Vallieu

Editor, Miami Valley Today

MIAMI COUNTY — As of Monday, 131 residences have been found to have damage following four tornadoes that came through the county on May 27.

Art Blackmore of the Miami County Local Emergency Planning Committee said teams were out Saturday and Sunday conducting more damage assessments at properties they had yet to be able to reach.

He said damage is categorized in four ways, including affected, minor, major and destroyed.

According to Blackmore, updated findings include:

• Affected, very minor damage — 42
• Minor damage, which includes a few more shingles, cracked glass, some siding missing — 53

• Major damage, a whole side of siding missing, more extensive roof damage, cracked glass — 26

• Destroyed, which means the house is not habitable — 10.

Blackmore said damage assessment teams were out again Monday morning visiting properties they didn’t make it to over the weekend or couldn’t reach because of debris.

In Union Township, where an EF-2 tornado struck, Blackmore said there are six locations where 40-yard Dumpsters have been placed for residents to bring woody debris. Those locations include Elleman Road, State Route 571, two on Rangeline Road, one at the trailer park on State Route 55 and one at the township hall, 9497 Markley Road, Laura. He said they are also taking brush that can be dumped behind the building and will be processed later.

“Not building materials, only natural vegetation,” he said.

Blackmore said they had 19 community members reach out for information so far through the Resource Assistance Center located in the West Milton Municipal Building, 701 S. Miami St. He said the Red Cross, Miami County EMA, Miami County Public Health, Miami County Job and Family Services, and Miami County Auditor have representatives and information available to assist residents with storm recovery. The center will remain open from 1-7 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday.

Blackmore said there has been some confusion pertaining to the resource center.

“What has happened is some people think the resource center is where they can come to volunteer or drop off goods,” he said. “The resource center is strictly for information on agencies that can possibly help.”

Blackmore said people can also reach out to the Northern Miami Valley Ohio Chapter of the Red Cross, which services Miami County, to get started and be directed to other resources. Their phone number is (937) 332-1414.

He said the Red Cross continues to pass out food to those in need and is now also handing out items like brooms, shovels and rakes to help those affected. Blackmore said the West Milton Fire Department also has a stockpile of water available to those in need.

Those wishing to be put on the list for future volunteer opportunities following the storms can still visit https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/JYQJ85P.

The Miami County Sheriff’s Office along with Union Township also worked to cut down on a couple looters who hit tornado struck homes in Miami County last week.

Greg Simmons, president of the Miami County Commissioners, said a couple individuals had been looting in the area off Rangeline Road where several homes were destroyed.

“Phil (Mote) and Sheriff Duchak have been outstanding,” Simmons said. “I was told of the issue by (Mote), and Sheriff Duchak immediately doubled patrols in the area and there haven’t been other problems.”

Volunteers who came to the area also reported several chainsaws missing, according to West Milton Police Chief Harry Busse.

As of 5 p.m. Monday, Rangeline and Elleman roads were still closed. Busse said most of the debris had been cleared, but repair crews were working to get downed power cables back in place. Busse said there was no power to the cables, but work couldn’t proceed with the roads open.

State Route 571, which has been closed in several areas since May 27, was expected to be fully re-opened Monday.

Blackmore said the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), is scheduled to be the county on Thursday, June 6 to do their own assessment of the area. He said they likely will use findings from the EMA and Red Cross to begin with and the go into the storm damaged areas to further assess damage on their own.

“The hope is that they would grant this area (financial) assistance — primarily to get the community rebuilt, to help individuals get back on their feet,” Blackmore said.

— WDTN contributed to this story

FEMA to visit Thursday