MIAMI COUNTY — U.S. Representative Warren Davidson visited local areas impacted by the May 27 tornadoes on Friday morning with representatives from the Miami County Emergency Management Agency (EMA), the Ohio EMA and Miami County Commissioner Jack Evans.
Miami County EMA Director Kenneth Artz updated Davidson on the response efforts to the EF3 tornado that touched down near West Milton and Union Township on May 27, saying that it was on the ground for approximately 18 minutes and its path was approximately 11 miles long.
“The debris clean-up has been remarkable,” said Artz, adding that the roads are clear in the local impacted area and that power has been restored to those residents.
Artz went over what their experience was like that night of the tornadoes, starting when they were activated by Ludlow Falls Fire Department. Their efforts have included coordinating between agencies, opening a resource center a few days after the storms, gathering volunteer information, doing site surveys and damage assessments, gathering the data required by the state, and so on.
The Miami County Auditor’s Office also estimated the total loss in the county at approximately $8.3 million, Artz said. Artz also added later that the county garage has spent approximately $25,000 on assisting with the response and clean-up.
“That’s based off their tax maps,” Artz said.
Sam Reed, a disaster services consultant with Ohio EMA overseeing 18 counties, five of which were impacted by the May 27 tornadoes, said that Miami County has been “well in front of the game” in their response to the tornadoes.
“We’ve moved into recovery stage,” Artz said.
This weekend, Miami County EMA will be canvassing the storm affected areas in Miami County on Saturday, June 8, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. The volunteers will be surveying affected residents to assess current and ongoing recovery needs. They will also be providing information, fact sheets, and resources to aid in recovery efforts. Artz said that they will have packets to hang on residents’ doors if the residents are not there.
Next week, Miami County EMA will also be meeting with other agencies and faith-based organizations to begin the long-term recovery process.
Artz also went over Thursday’s visit from representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), saying that he felt like FEMA was impressed with the local organization, including having the damage assessments. Artz said that he thought Miami County is “well-positioned” to receive aid, but it is still up to FEMA and the state.
“They’re formulating that data right now to then provide their opinion,” said Reed, who explained that FEMA’s recommendation will go through the Ohio EMA, who will send a letter to Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, who will then send that letter to President Donald Trump. If approved, FEMA will then work directly with the individuals impacted by the tornadoes.
“We’re in a good position for right now,” Reed said.
Davidson said later on that Trump is ready to support Ohio’s needs.
“The president’s already communicated publicly, whatever Ohio needs, he’ll be ready to support us,” Davidson said.
Artz later added that a FEMA representative said that Miami County’s tornado damage “was by far worse than Mercer or Celina.” FEMA also upgraded two of the county’s damage assessments to show two additional destroyed structures on top of the 15 other destroy structures. Approximately 25 structures in Union Township also have major damage with approximately 57 with minor damage and approximately 44 that were just affected.
“When you get out there and look at the impact, how nobody died in this is a miracle,” Artz said about the local damage. They noted that there was one death from the tornadoes in Celina.
Davidson was at his home in Troy playing cards with his family when they got an alert on their phone about the storms on May 27 and they went into their basement. Davidson has driven through the impacted areas himself in Miami, Darke, and Mercer counties, but Friday’s trip was his first time out with Miami County EMA and Ohio EMA.
Davidson said that he was thankful that more people were not hurt given “how big the damage was.”
“It could have been so much more devastating in terms of loss of life,” Davidson said. “Then you look at the property damage, and it’s amazing that there wasn’t more loss of life given how badly damaged some of the property is.”
Davidson said that the community’s response to help one another was encouraging.
“We would have been much happier if none of this happened, obviously, but the encouraging thing is just to see how communities come together in tough times like this,” Davidson said. “Setting up ways to help their neighbors … a lot of donations, a lot of volunteer hours, opening up their homes to people who need a place to stay, it’s just been encouraging to see the strength of our community.”
Reach Sam Wildow at firstname.lastname@example.org. © 2019 Miami Valley Sunday News, all rights reserved.