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The Latest On FEMA, Miami Valley Tornado Recovery

The Red Cross Northern Miami Valley Chapter
The Red Cross Northern Miami Valley Chapter

Inspectors from the Federal Emergency Management Agency are expected to arrive in the Miami Valley next week to begin surveying damage from Monday's tornado outbreak. Dayton city officials say the FEMA inspectors will not be distributing financial assistance during their visit.

Gov. Mike DeWine  requested help earlier this week from FEMA for the 10 counties that suffered tornado damage, including Montgomery, Greene, and Mercer Counties, as the National Weather Service's analysis of the tornadoes and their impact Memorial Day continues to evolve.

Experts have upgraded the twister that struck Brookville, Trotwood, Dayton and Riverside to an EF-4, with winds of up to 170 miles an hour.

Dayton officials have lifted the boil advisory for Brookville and say water service is restored. The all-clear means all Montgomery County and Dayton water customers no longer have to follow the advisory that's been in effect since the storm.

Officials have also lifted the water-conservation advisory. Water customers wanting to confirm the status of their water service can do so by entering their service address into the search field of the map at www.daytonohio.gov/boiladvisory. 

Investigators have counted at least 6,000 damaged buildings across Dayton.

First responders spent time this week checking in on residents still in Old North Dayton, many of whom are struggling with medical needs in the wake of the storm, and with critical damage across the neighborhood, says City Manager Shelley Dickstein says.

"These impacted neighborhoods will never be the same and have been devastated in ways that we can't even hardly imagine," she says. 

And around 4,000 Dayton customers remain without power.

"I think they said at the height, we had 12,000 in the city of Dayton that were out of service, and then overall in the whole region, there's 13,000 still without service as DP&L restores the remainder of our residents," Mayor Nan Whaley told reporters.

Vectren crews are continuing to work to restore all gas service. As crews work, officials say there may be periodic natural gas odors present during repairs, and anyone who smells gas is asked to contact Vectren at 800-227-1376.

Police officers are expected to patrol heavily storm-damaged areas this weekend in an effort to prevent looting.

And Red Cross volunteers plan to distribute emergency cleaning supplies across the region beginning Saturday. City officials are asking residents displaced by storm who are staying with loved ones to sign up with the Red Cross so they’ll be eligible for services.

Officials are warning residents to stay alert in neighborhoods where some traffic lights are still dark. 

To avoid contractor, insurance-related or other recovery fraud, the Attorney General’s office says people needing storm-related home repairs should research any business offering services, and seek multiple price estimates from at least three different contractors -- something that may be challenging for people without internet service as a result of the storm.

Officials stress the importance of reading all agreements carefully before signing documents. The Ohio Department of Insurance also advises homeowners to not allow anyone to inspect their properties without being present.

Spokesman Robert Denhard says fly-by-night contractors often use dirty tricks to take advantage of vulnerable disaster victims.

“One technique that fraudulent contractors will use is to actually take a golf ball and a hammer to create the effect that the home was damaged by hail or flying debris,” Denhard says, “and that will be an avenue to scam the homeowner.”

He cautions tornado victims to pay for recovery services with a credit card, which may offer more protection in the event of a dispute down the road. Ohioans who are concerned about scams in their area are asked to call the Attorney General’s Help Line at 1-800-282-0515, or the Bureau of Crime Investigations Tip Line at 855-BCI-OHIO.

Volunteer activity is ramping up and has already been robust, with at least 700 people reporedly signing up to volunteer with the Red Cross in a 24-hour period.

To find out how and where to volunteer, or to get information on storm relief, click here.

Jess Mador comes to WYSO from Knoxville NPR-station WUOT, where she created an interactive multimedia health storytelling project called TruckBeat, one of 15 projects around the country participating in AIR's Localore: #Finding America initiative. Before TruckBeat, Jess was an independent public radio journalist based in Minneapolis. She’s also worked as a staff reporter and producer at Minnesota Public Radio in the Twin Cities, and produced audio, video and web stories for a variety of other news outlets, including NPR News, APM, and PBS television stations. She has a Master's degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York. She loves making documentaries and telling stories at the intersection of journalism, digital and social media.
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