Tuesday, May 22, 2018
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City spent $266,000 responding to storms

Toledo spent at least $266,000 responding to last month's severe storms that damaged homes, businesses, and vehicles, Mayor Carty Finkbeiner announced yesterday.

The mayor hopes President Bush's disaster declaration for six northern Ohio counties, including Lucas, will allow the city to receive federal reimbursement. The city spent about $107,000 of the $266,000 on overtime for city workers responding to sewer and drainage problems.

The city received more than 1,200 calls regarding flooding problems during and after the June 21 storm, he said.

But Jesse Munoz, the Federal Emergency Management Agency official coordinating relief efforts in the federal disaster area that includes Lucas, Huron, Sandusky, Erie, Cuyahoga, and Stark counties, said it's unlikely the city will get any money back.

While the federal public assistance program reimburses state, city, and county governments, he said the amount of money the city spent is too low to qualify for repayment.

"It looks like they have quite a ways to go to reach the threshold for public assistance," Mr. Munoz said. "We'll be limited to strictly individual assistance."

Lucas County Commissioner Tina Skeldon Wozniak said county officials also would appreciate reimbursement for county expenses, but they aren't counting on it.

The county was responsible for responding to any residents outside the city of Toledo. County employees - mainly in the sanitary engineer and building inspection departments - logged more than 250 hours in overtime in the aftermath of the storm. No figure for that cost was available yesterday.

"We really believe at this point that reimbursements are more clear for business and households," Ms. Wozniak said. "We're less concerned we will see other money."

Bill Halsey, county Emergency Management Agency director, explained that federal officials consider per capita damage before governments are reimbursed. In Lucas County, about $1.5 million worth of flood damage would need to have occurred.

Mr. Halsey believes the actual amount of damage is significantly less, although he would not speculate by how much.

A preliminary damage assessment released Friday by officials in the six northern Ohio counties officially declared disaster areas concluded that 25 homes were destroyed, 317 homes sustained major damage, 1,064 received minor damage, and 3,262 had cosmetic damage, such as water in basements and lost shingles.

Victims in these counties whose property was damaged during the severe weather can apply for grants and low-interest loans, federal officials said. Federal aid typically includes grants of up to $5,200 for temporary housing and other money, up to $26,500, to cover such things as medical care from injuries.

The declaration's primary effect, officials said, is the authorization of federal low-interest loans to replace or repair damaged property.

Toledo Fire Chief Mike Bell urged storm victims to register with FEMA because it is the only way they can receive federal assistance. Residents in the counties that were declared a federal disaster have 60 days, which began Sunday, to apply for help through the federal agency, the chief said.

As of yesterday afternoon, 59 households from Lucas County had registered with the agency.

Mr. Munoz said FEMA officials hope to have a field office set up in northern Ohio by Thursday afternoon. Right now, officials are operating out of the state's emergency center in Columbus.

In an interview with The Blade after yesterday's press conference, Mayor Finkbeiner praised the federal government's speedy response to the flood damage in northern Ohio.

"It certainly uplifts folks who feel like they are pretty down and out," he said.

Staff writers Erica Blake and Erika Ray contributed to this report.

Contact Laren Weber at:


or 419-724-6050.

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