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Published: Tuesday, 3/6/2012 - Updated: 2 years ago

Kasich mobilizes Guard to Ohio aid cleanup

BLADE NEWS SERVICES
Jonathan Foster tosses debris from his ruined barn in Mount Olive in southern Ohio, where a tornado struck Friday, killing 3 people and damaging nearly 300 structures. Jonathan Foster tosses debris from his ruined barn in Mount Olive in southern Ohio, where a tornado struck Friday, killing 3 people and damaging nearly 300 structures.
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CINCINNATI — Gov. John Kasich mobilized the National Guard Monday to tornado-ravaged areas of southern Ohio where nearly 300 homes, businesses, and government buildings were damaged by storms and winds.

Nearly half the structures in the Ohio River village of Moscow in Clermont County are among the nearly 100 in southwest Ohio that received major damage.

Mr. Kasich said the troops will help speed cleanup and recovery in Moscow and other damaged communities.

The storms Friday night tore off roofs and crumbled walls in an area 30 to 40 miles east of Cincinnati. Three people were killed.

Mr. Kasich toured the area Saturday and dispatched crews from the Ohio Department of Transportation to help local officials with debris removal.

Mr. Kasich on Monday reconsidered his rejection of federal help in tornado-stricken communities and asked federal inspectors to assess the damage as soon as possible.

A team from the Federal Emergency Management Agency is expected to arrive Tuesday in Clermont County to survey the storm damage and determine whether the region qualifies for financial or logistical assistance.

“Hopefully we can get a quick answer from the federal inspectors on what additional resources might be available to help people begin recovering,” Mr. Kasich said.

The decision was made to invite the inspectors two days after the governor had said he would not seek immediate federal disaster relief because he was confident Ohio could handle the crisis.

A spokesman for the governor said the decision to invite FEMA was made after Mr. Kasich reviewed the findings of state emergency management officials and developed “a firm understanding of the problem.”

Republican U.S. Rep. Jean Schmidt of Clermont County said she had urged Mr. Kasich to change course after public officials in several hard-hit areas expressed an interest in immediate federal help. She said the leaders of those communities did not accept Mr. Kasich’s assertion that federal disaster assistance was not needed and that the state can handle cleanup and emergency relief.

The decision to invite FEMA to Ohio does not mean Mr. Kasich will accept the inspectors’ recommendation or any federal aid that may be available.

But it is a first step toward doing so.

Democrats have accused Mr. Kasich, a longtime critic of the federal government, of playing politics with a disaster.

The governor faced more pressure Monday when the village of Moscow sent out a call for help to Cincinnati and other communities because state resources were not sufficient to do the job.

If the governor does not seek a federal disaster declaration, Cincinnati and any other community that lends a hand will not be eligible for reimbursement from FEMA.

Snow covers a demolished house in Marysville, Ind. The Midwest and South were struck by an estimated 30 tornadoes Friday. The storms killed 40 people, including three in southwest Ohio. Snow covers a demolished house in Marysville, Ind. The Midwest and South were struck by an estimated 30 tornadoes Friday. The storms killed 40 people, including three in southwest Ohio.
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The FEMA teams that are expected to arrive Tuesday must review the damage to determine whether the region qualifies for federal help.

Cincinnati City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld, a Democrat, said it was “unconscionable and disheartening that Governor Kasich would choose not to accept federal funds for relief.”

Mr. Sittenfeld issued the statement after Cincinnati City Manager Milton Dohoney said the city had received a request, apparently on behalf of Clermont County, asking other communities to send equipment and people to assist with cleanup efforts.

Governors in Indiana and Kentucky, also hit hard by Friday’s tornadoes, have said they would seek help from the federal government and have welcomed FEMA’s assessment teams.

In Indiana, a 15-month-old girl who clung to life for two days after being scooped up by a tornado that killed her parents and two siblings was buried Monday in a snow-covered cemetery, a poignant end to what had seemed to be a miracle story of survival.

An American flag hung at half-staff as relatives of Angel Babcock gathered for the private burial. Angel, her mother, and her 2-month-old sister were buried in one casket.

Her father and 2-year-old brother were in another.

Angel died Sunday at Kosair Children’s Hospital in Louisville after suffering severe head injuries when a tornado struck her family’s home in New Pekin, Ind., and swept her into the field.

Her death is one of 40 from the tornadoes that ripped through the Midwest and South on Friday.

The family were buried in the pauper section at Crown Hill Cemetery in Salem, Police Maj. Scott Ratts said.

At least two banks set up funds to benefit the Babcock family, and Major Ratts said contributions have come in from all over the country.

The tornado that killed Angel and her family was among an estimated 30 packing winds of more than 110 mph, according to the National Weather Service.



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