DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – The path of destruction caused by the Memorial Day tornadoes is slowly being rebuilt, thanks to funding from the Dayton Foundation and the United Way.

“We had roughly 800 cases that came through case management. About 50 percent of those are home owners and I would say that there are about 350 cases still open,” explained Laura Mercer, executive director of the Miami Valley Long-Term Recovery Operations Group.

Mercer said there were plans in place to begin a big recovery project using many out-of-state volunteers starting in mid-April. However, due to guidelines and restrictions regarding the global coronavirus pandemic, these plans had to be put on pause.

“In terms of the impact of COVID19 on tornado recovery work, it really was initially a delay. We had teams scheduled every week through the end of the year starting in mid-April and those teams obviously got delayed,” she said.

However, the group continued to work with contractors safely to make progress. Now a larger recovery effort is set to resume this week with local volunteers.

“We’re trying to keep with the public health deadlines,” said Mercer. ‘But we’re going to need people to make masks for volunteers to come in to work, we’re going to have some exterior clean up jobs…so there will be some things that will come up this summer so people can still get involved. Our neighbors still need your help.”

In order to complete their mission, they need responses from those who need help.

“We don’t believe that we have a handle on everyone who needs help. There are a lot of folks we believe are out there that need help that have not yet called 211,” said Mercer.

Homeowners who were uninsured or underinsured, living in properties damaged by the tornadoes and needing help with repairs may be eligible for free assistance from the Miami Valley Long-Term Recovery Group. Individuals with an owner-occupied tornado damaged property must call the United Way’s Helplink at 2-1-1 or (937) 225-3000 by the deadline of August 1, 2020 to request this assistance.

In addition to help with rebuilding and repairs, calling 2-1-1 also connects individuals impacted by the tornadoes to resources for basic needs and even spiritual and emotional support.