Twenty-one tornadoes led to flooding, straight-line winds and landslides on Memorial Day, affecting 10 Ohio counties and leaving the state with a disaster of such magnitude that an effective response is beyond the capability of state and affected localities.
That’s the assessment of a report and request for help from Ohio government to FEMA, released Tuesday afternoon.
Hospitals in the impacted areas have reported 385 injuries as a result of the storms, 166 of those in Montgomery County alone.
“There is widespread devastation throughout the impacted counties,” the administration of Gov. Mike DeWine wrote in the report to FEMA Administrator James Joseph. “Homes, entire apartment complexes, and businesses have been destroyed. Power transmission and distribution lines were heavily damaged, with peak power outages in excess of 70,000. Some areas are still without power.”
The report added: “The greater Dayton water system was directly impacted by these outages as electric service was disrupted to two water plants, numerous pump stations and the well fields that are the source for the system.”
Four school districts cancelled the final days of the school year, and Beavercreek Twp.’s Kemp Road fire station sustained heavy damage to overhead doors, which damaged two engines and a medic unit, the report stated.
DeWine announced Monday said the state will send the Federal Emergency Management Agency a detailed assessment of damage and a request for help.
State agencies have addressed 37 “mission requests” for assistance from affected counties, Tuesday’s report said.
READ THE REPORT:
Around 500 buildings in 10 Ohio counties were completely destroyed in the Memorial Day tornadoes, most in the Dayton region.
The confirmed tornadoes two weeks ago damaged about 1,800 buildings statewide, leaving local and state governments with a situation they cannot handle alone, DeWine said Monday after a tour of manufacturer Trimble in Huber Heights.
“We have to show that the disaster is of such magnitude, that it’s so big, that it cannot be handled by the state and it cannot be handled by the local governments,” DeWine said. “This was a widespread disaster.”
DeWine believes the tornadoes meet FEMA’s criteria for assistance, but he did not know how FEMA will respond.
Cassie Ringsdorf, a FEMA spokeswoman, said Monday the agency has not received the state’s request, but once it does, it will be moved “as quickly as possible” through a review process.
Help from FEMA does not require congressional action, Ringsdorf said.
“Once it gets to FEMA, we review it in the Department of Homeland Security, and then it ultimately is referred to the president,” she said. “That’s where a decision is made.”
Ringsdorf agreed with DeWine’s characterization of FEMA’s criteria for assistance.
“Essentially, we look at a number of factors, but it all culminates into: The damage must be of an extent that it is beyond the capability of the local and state governments to recover from,” she said.
The report details the state’s response to the disaster, recounting how the Ohio Department of Transportation moved a 500 KW generator from Union County to the Dayton area.
ODOT also transported 35,455 gallons of state-owned potable water from an Ohio Department of Health warehouse to a staging area at the University of Dayton.
The state also purchased 13,440 gallons of water for distribution in the Dayton and Beavercreek areas.