TROTWOOD, Ohio (WDTN) – Thousands of families are now waiting for federal relief as the tornado recovery process is now underway. On Wednesday several FEMA teams began canvassing the Miami Valley to assess the damage. Once completed, they can then determine how much disaster aid is required.
The state Emergency Management Agency and FEMA officials caution this could be a lengthy process. They’re certain money will come to the Miami Valley, but some people need it right now.
Mark Peterson is the External Affairs Director of FEMA Region 5. He says, “There’s no specific timeline, but what I can tell you is we’re going to work as quickly as possible to turn around the request should the state determine it’s needed.”
FEMA and the state’s emergency management agency are on the ground, assessing storm damage in 10 Ohio counties. Their data will allow the state to request federal assistance. The President will determine if aid money is warranted.
It’s a time intensive process. The FEMA teams go building by building, but they’re not just counting the number of units that were damaged, they’re calculating the overall impact of the damage. But FEMA doesn’t just look at housing issues, they look at the overall trauma to community, including job and business losses.
Mark Peterson says, “We want to make sure that we understand whether or not people’s needs are being met by insurance.”
The quickest path to recovery is through insurance. Uninsured damage will take longer. Jay Carey is the External Affairs Chief for the Ohio EMA. He says, “Whether the uninsured damage is going to be enough to lead to a federal disaster is what we’re trying to determine over the next two days.”
Mark Peterson says, “Federal assistance through FEMA can provide some grants to help people get back to a safe and sanitary condition.”
But those officials caution against expecting an immediate difference once they leave. Carey says, “The earliest that we could even make a request would probably be next week. How soon the money will flow after that? This is a process and it will probably be several weeks.”