County to receive aid for storm

Auglaize County is one of 37 counties in the state receiving federal aid to supplement recovery efforts by government agencies after a severe wind storm hit the area June 29.

President Barack Obama announ-ced the major disaster declaration this week for Auglaize County and adjacent counties of Allen, Shelby, Van Wert, Logan and Hardin after receiving letters from Ohio’s two U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman and Gov. John Kasich along with other state and federal officials. The aid is to help those counties hit by severe storms and straight-line winds from June 29 through July 2.

Auglaize County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) Director Troy Anderson said as he just received notification that the county was to receive aid. He still doesn’t know many details.

“More information is to follow,” Anderson said of how much aid the county may qualify for and to cover what specific costs. “We’re kind of in a hold pattern until we hear back, when we find out what assistance we will get and when it will take place.”

Anderson said the funding is only available for government agencies, including police, fire, cities, villages and townships, and not county residents.

“There will be no individual assistant to come out of this,” Anderson said.

He said approximately $500,000 in qualifying damages were turned in by government agencies in Auglaize County. The county was required to meet a per capita level of $155,000 to qualify for any federal aid.

Anderson said not only did the county automatically qualify by meeting that level, but the numbers held after the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and state agency officials came in to review damage in Auglaize County.

The county’s EMA director said damage numbers could climb even higher as he knows not all damage costs experienced by government agencies have yet to be represented.

Anderson said some of the expenses the aid is to cover include overtime and backfill, debris removal, protective measures, search and rescue, equipment usage, public utilities, mulching and chipping, and road and structure damage.

“Everything is consistent with damage you would expect from something like this,” Anderson said.

He said some of the larger expenses came from the cities of Wapakoneta and St. Marys, as well as Auglaize County, which experienced a lot of loss at the Auglaize County Fairgrounds, but even townships experiencing between $400 to a couple thousand dollars in damage could be feeling a big hit based on their budget and population.

In addition to Auglaize County, St. Marys and Wapakoneta, New Bremen, Waynesfield, Duchouquet Township and Salem Township, were included in the government assistance report.

Midwest Electric and DP&L also were included based upon utility damage.

In Wapakoneta, Safety-Service Director Bill Rains said the storm cost the city approximately $80,000 in labor and equipment to deal with the initial power outage and to collect limbs during the weeks following the event as well as to operate the compost facility.

In St. Marys, the storm cost the St. Marys Electric Department more than $50,000 in labor, equipment and other expenses — an expense that was not budgeted for at the beginning of the year. St. Marys Safety-Service Director Jason Little said the city’s total expenses reached $80,000.