FEMA tornado assistance to relieve pressure on local budgets

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HARRISON TWP, Ohio (WDTN) – As mountains of debris pile high so does the cost of tornado recovery.  Harrison Township officials estimate the Memorial Day storms will cost them at least upwards of $4 million. 

“It’s kind of a natural reaction that everything that you already have planned kind of gets put on hold temporarily until you assess the damage and the costs (of the tornado),” Merle Cyphers, Harrison Township services director.

Up to 75 percent of tornado recovery costs incurred by local jurisdictions could be covered by under a new FEMA public assistance program. 

The FEMA-funded reimbursement program could cover costs for debris removal, infrastructure damage, and personnel overtime.  There’s no cap on how much could be re-paid. 

“It’s exciting for us. It’s relieving for us. It will relieve some of our budgetary concerns,” Cyphers said.

Now, the township is crunching numbers to see what FEMA will cover. 

“We have to track everything. Every hour of equipment use, every hour of personnel,” Cyphers said.

It could be a long time until the township sees any money back in their pockets. Cyphers said the lengthy could take up to eight months.

While rare, the Miami Valley has been through this procedure before. When straight line winds hit the area as a result of Hurricane Ike, the assistance program was also enacted.  

As much time as it will take, Cyphers is hopeful for relief this will bring.  

“We’ve been hopeful that things will work out and they’ll move in a timely process,” Cyphers said.

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