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Miami Valley Counties Await FEMA Public Assistance Reimbursements

Four FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers will be open Thursday, July 4, to help people affected by the storms.
Jess Mador

As cleanup continues around the Miami Valley from the Memorial Day tornado outbreak, some affected counties are detailing storm-related expenses for the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The federal government green-lit assistance for four Ohio counties to reimburse costs related to debris removal, infrastructure repair and emergency response. The FEMA grant could bring millions of needed funds to hard-hit communities.

Under FEMAs so-called Public Assistance program, the federal government could fund up to 75 percent of qualifying expenses in four counties: Columbiana, Greene, Mercer and Montgomery.

In a recent letter to FEMA the state’s Emergency Management Agency reported these expenses come in at more than $18 million statewide.

Ohio officials report the lion’s share of the expenses under consideration by FEMA for reimbursement have gone to debris removal.

Others include costs stemming from crews' overtime handling tornado cleanup duties in addition to regular city and county services, such as road, bridge and infrastructure repairs, and repairs to damaged water-system infrastructure, public buildings parks and other facilities. 

Trotwood Mayor Mary McDonald says the city is working with FEMA to update its damage assessement.

So far, she says Trotwood has fronted more than $6 million in tornado-related expenses.

“But I am extremely hopeful that we will be able to recover all that we need so that we can continue on. We know that there is no way that we won't be impacted ultimately with additional expenses but we are very very hopeful in this community that we'll be fine,” she says.

A spokesperson for FEMA says agents are meeting individually with other Miami Valley officials to document their storm-damage expenses for potential reimbursement from the federal government grant program. 

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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