Tornado damage to a home east of Laura on State Route 571 in Miami County. STEVE BAKER / STAFF
Photo: Steve Baker
Photo: Steve Baker

Miami County gets tornado damage report, looks to long-term recovery

Damage assessment teams identified 143 properties in Union Twp. that were affected in some way by the tornadoes and storms, according to Ken Artz, Miami County Emergency Management Agency director.

Union Twp. includes the villages of West Milton, Laura, Ludlow Falls and Potsdam. Artz said most of the damage was outside of West Milton around the villages.

The EMA report listed 15 properties as destroyed, 27 with major damage, 57 with minor damage and 44 as affected.

The numbers involve primarily properties without insurance, Artz said, because the report is being compiled for Federal Emergency Management Agency assistance consideration.

A FEMA site visit in the county is scheduled for 1 p.m. Thursday, Artz told the county commissioners in an update Tuesday morning.

The visit is to “consider us (county) for assistance. There are no guarantees,” he said.

A cost analysis of the damage caused in the township will come down the road. Those numbers would include damage covered by insurance.

Officials plan a meeting for Thursday to begin long-term recovery efforts.

“We need to start getting a game plan together,” Artz said. “We will work until the job is done.”

Those efforts would address issues as needed such as long-term housing, assistance with replacing household items destroyed and mental health assistance.

All county roads closed by the storm’s downed power lines and trees are now open, county Engineer Paul Huelskamp said. He said there was very little damage caused to county roads or infrastructure.

The American Red Cross has ceased its operations in the county but continues providing individual assessments and a Resource Assistance Center set up in the West Milton Municipal Building, 701 S. Miami St., West Milton, will be open again Wednesday from 1-7 p.m. Whether that operation will continue beyond Wednesday remains to be determined.

The center has seen “a constant flow of people,” Artz said. Staffing the center are representatives of various agencies such as Job and Family Services and the county Auditor’s Office. Artz said the auditor’s is seeing several people seeking information on tax rebates.

The commissioners have approved a resolution allowing county residents affected by the tornadoes to bring natural wood debris – trees, shrubs, bushes – to the county Transfer Station north of Troy free of charge through June 30. A fee will be charged for debris contaminated with trash and other items.

Huelskamp said people dropped of 50 tons of wood debris Sunday during special hours at the station. The station will be open again this Sunday 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and possibly beyond to meet people’s needs, Huelskamp said.

A Volunteer Reception Center was opened over the weekend to register people interested in volunteering. If those people are needed for specific tasks, they will be contacted and assigned, Artz said.

The Tri-County Board of Recovery and Mental Health Services serving Miami, Darke and Shelby counties has placed information specific to managing traumatic stress after a severe weather event on its website at www.tcbmds.org/weather.

The site also contains information about local providers of counseling and other treatment services in the Find Help section. Other resources include the Tri-County 24/7 Crisis Hotline, 800-351-7347, or the national Crisis Text Line by texting 4Hope to 741741.

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