Tuesday, Oct 25, 2016
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Chaos in ravaged area slowly coming under control

Emergency crews, volunteers, and donations continued to pour in yesterday to the northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan areas devastated by last weekend's tornadoes.

Humanitarian and cleanup needs remained daunting, but with power restored to most areas last night it appeared the chaos was gradually being brought under control.

As state and federal emergency management officials toured Wood, Fulton, and Ottawa counties to assess damages and needs, the Red Cross provided its own figures on the number of homes affected by the disaster.

The Greater Toledo chapter of the American Red Cross said more than 700 homes were damaged in Lucas, Wood, Ottawa, and Fulton counties. Of those, 42 suffered major damage and 39 were destroyed.

For Dundee Village, Dundee Township, and the Estral Beach area in Michigan, the Monroe Red Cross chapter said 16 homes were destroyed, 24 had major damage, and 119 had minor damage.

Mobile Red Cross units toured affected areas yesterday, providing food and other assistance to residents and cleanup crews.

Jodie Tienvieri of the Toledo area Red Cross said the scale of the disaster was proving to be a logistical challenge as the agency worked to meet the needs of victims and volunteers and navigate roadways disrupted by fallen trees, debris, and heavy traffic.

Ms. Tienvieri said it appeared most people affected by the Toledo-area tornadoes had insurance and, although the Red Cross made preparations to assist people left homeless, there had been no requests for emergency shelter. "These communities are so close-knit and so closely tied it's really neighbors helping neighbors," she said. "They see the problem and they just pitch in and help."

Debbie Davenport, the emergency services director for the Monroe County Red Cross chapter, said she believed about 70 percent of residents there had insurance. She said the agency would be reaching out to people in damaged homes tomorrow to find out where monetary and other assistance is needed.

George Aren, Salvation Army director of emergency services for eastern Michigan, said some of those needs were coming to light already. He moved three Dundee families to an emergency shelter last night after the apartment complex they rented was found to be uninhabitable.

On the Ohio side, hundreds of volunteers flocked to improvised service centers in Perrysburg, Millbury, and Walbridge to help with cleanup and relief efforts. United Way spokesman Kelli Kreps reported almost 700 volunteers had been deployed to areas in Wood and Ottawa counties, hundreds more than on Monday.

Responding to reports that some volunteers were turned away from Lake High School, Ms. Kreps said it was important for those offering help to stop first at the United Way's volunteer centers so they can be properly directed.

Those centers are at the Grace United Methodist Church in Perrysburg, Mainstreet Church in Walbridge, and the Fire Hall in Millbury.

Donations of money and materials are providing welcome relief to area agencies. The Red Cross has collected more than $23,000 in two days for its emergency relief fund, Ms. Tienvieri said.

Loaned and donated vehicles will allow Lake Township police to soon return cruisers borrowed from the Wood County sheriff and Oregon and Perrysburg Township police, Police Chief Mark Hummer said.

"A lot of the car dealerships have called and said, 'Come get whatever you need,'•" Chief Hummer said. Home Depot and hundreds of volunteers have distributed tarps to shield damaged homes from rain.

"Its just amazing," Chief Hummer said. "At times it does make me speechless. You don't know how to say 'thank you' enough."

In Fulton County, Justin Thompson, emergency management director, said hundreds of volunteers were in Swancreek Township working to clear brush, trees, and other debris from roads.

Today, volunteers in Fulton County are asked to check in at Shiloh Christian Union Church near Delta starting at 9 a.m. through 6 p.m. There is a big need for volunteers with chainsaws.

Staff writer Bridget Tharp contributed to this report.

Contact Claudia Boyd-Barrett at: cbarrett@theblade.com

or 419-724-6272.

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