Harrison Township Struggling In Aftermath Of Tornadoes

Jul 4, 2019

Tornado cleanup continues in Harrison Township, where three twisters touched down on Memorial Day, leaving wreckage from one end of the township to the other.

More than 400 homes and apartments were destroyed in the outbreak, and township officials say they’re still working to connect displaced residents with relief services.

In a lot on Forest Park Drive, there’s a gigantic pile of storm debris roughly two stories high and about the length of a football field.

A month after the storm, the township is still shredding thousands of fallen trees, creating mountains of mulch even bigger than the debris pile.

As the cleanup continues, the bill for it grows.

Harrison Township Development Director Cathi Spaugy estimates the tornado cleanup cost so far at over $4 million, much more than the township’s annual budget.

But Spaugy says the greater cost is that faced by the dozens of area families who remain displaced.

“We have people that are still living in hotels,” she says. “We have them living with family members. And a lot of people, quite frankly, were living out of their cars or basically living as if they were homeless. Or, at the time the shelters were open they were living at the shelters.”

Cathi Spaugy, Development Director for Harrison Township, says so many residents sought emergency shelter after the tornadoes, officials were unable to keep track of everyone in need. She's hoping residents hurt by the storm will seek help from the township.
Credit Jason Reynolds / WYSO

And, with some emergency shelters already closed or closing soon, township officials are urging tornado survivors in need to contact the township for help accessing assistance in the Miami Valley. 

The Harrison Township Facebook page also includes a list of resources, and residents are invited to call the office at 937-890-5611 during business hours. 

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has opened a disaster recovery center at the Harrison Township Government Center, located at 5495 North Dixie Drive. 

The agency is operating five disaster recovery centers in tornado-affected areas of Western Ohio.

The centers are offering FEMA grants, low-interest loans through the United States Small Business Administration, and referrals to other state, federal and local nonprofit agencies that could help survivors with uninsured losses and expenses related to repairs and relocation. 

The deadline for applications for FEMA and SBA assistance is Aug. 19. 

Ohioans affected by the Memorial Day tornadoes can get help applying for FEMA aid at the Harrison Twp. Government Center. A U.S. Small Business Administration recovery center is also on site, making low-interest loans available to affected homeowners, business owners and renters.
Credit Jason Reynolds / WYSO

FEMA officials stress the fastest way to open a claim for disaster assistance is online at DisasterAssistance.gov; or by phone, at 800-621-3362, before showing up in person at a disaster recovery center.

Find a center closest to you at FEMA.gov.