State And Local Officials Await Word On Federal Aid Three Weeks After Miami Valley Tornado Disaster

Jun 17, 2019

Miami Valley officials are still awaiting word on whether the White House will issue an official disaster declaration for communities recovering from the Memorial Day tornadoes.

The designation would allow FEMA aid and other federal disaster assistance from agencies, including the United States Small Business Administration, to begin flowing to the 10 Ohio counties affected by the storm.

Among the hardest hit areas was Trotwood, where hundreds of properties remain damaged.

The city has set up a disaster-relief fund to help displaced residents and business owners get back on their feet.

At the city’s 2019 State of the City address Monday night, Mayor Mary McDonald told a crowd of more than 150 people the city is unified in its recovery efforts.

“We lost so much within our community, but we gained so much within the city of Trotwood. We've gained a trust and a belief in ourselves that we didn't have before, that we didn't show before, and oftentimes it has to come through situations like this, unfortunately," she says. "And how do we keep that going? We keep that going. That's how we do that.”

Sen. Sherrod Brown, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley and other Miami Valley elected and emergency management officials met Monday to discuss tornado recovery progress.
Credit Jess Mador / WYSO

Trotwood emergency officials met Monday afternoon with Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown in Dayton to update him on tornado recovery.

Also there were officials from Dayton, including Mayor Nan Whaley, Beavercreek, Celina, Montgomery, Greene and Mercer Counties, Ohio Emergency Management, the Dayton Foundation, the Dayton Chamber of Commerce and the Dayton chapter of the Red Cross.

The Red Cross reports its case workers are handling 1,000 relief cases, but officials stress the agency is just one of a number of organizations assisting tornado survivors, including the Salvation Army, which is estimated to be helping around 600 people, St. Vincent de Paul and others, and any case numbers are likely an undercount. 

Officials told Brown many homeowners and renters affected by the storm are struggling with underinsurance, a key factor in FEMA's damage assessment, which looks at uninsured storm damage.

Three weeks after the storm, Brown, Republican Sen. Rob Portman and other lawmakers have repeatedly pressed President Donald Trump to grant Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine's recent request for a formal Presidential Disaster Declaration.

"Gov. DeWine did what he should have done and moved on it as quickly as these things can happen, then Sen. Portman as soon as he made the designation from the state, Sen. Portman and I began the efforts in Washington. My understanding is that the president will move, we hope, on this quickly," Brown says.  

Beginning Memorial Day night, 21 tornadoes touched down in Montgomery, Greene, Mercer, Miami, Auglaize, Darke, Hocking, Muskingum, Perry and Pickaway counties.