EDITOR’S NOTE: This story was written in response to a reader-submitted question through Open Source, a platform where readers can ask Ashland Source’s newsroom to investigate a question.
While north central Ohio deals with clean-up and repairs after a derecho and tornado swept through the area earlier in the week, a reader asked us if there is any state or federal assistance coming to the region.
The answer is maybe, but first the region has to meet certain requirements that it’s struggled to reach in the past.
Individuals and businesses seeking assistance need to have a damage assessment done that is based on the amount of uninsured damage done to structures.
If local governments want state assistance, they must conduct a damage assessment, and damages have to exceed a dollar amount specific to each county.
In Knox County, county EMA Deputy Director James DeChant is unsure if they will meet the uninsured threshold.
“You’re looking at $19 million of uninsured damages across the state and they’re just not sure we’re gonna reach that,” DeChant said.
Richland County EMA is also unsure if they will qualify for state funds while their damage assessment is ongoing, EMA Administrative Assistant Sarah Potes said.
The last time Gov. DeWine declared a storm-related disaster was in 2019 when multiple EF-3 and EF-4 tornadoes tore through the Dayton area and southwestern Ohio.
The tornado that touched down in Richland County on Tuesday was an EF-1 tornado.
When an EF-2 tornado hit the city of Shelby in Richland County in 2019, DeWine declined to declare an disaster. Shelby also failed to hit the uninsured properties requirement then.
In order for counties to receive federal grants, the President has to declare a major disaster or an emergency. The last time a President made such a declaration for a storm in Ohio was also for the southwestern Ohio tornadoes in 2019.
Even if the state or federal government can not offer assistance, there are still local options.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency recommends contacting your local EMA or your local American Red Cross for assistance. The region has also opened a number of cooling centers for residents that may lack power or need to get out of the heat.