“I am specifically requesting a declaration for Adams, Athens, Belmont, Brown, Clermont, Gallia, Guernsey, Hamilton, Hocking, Jackson, Jefferson, Lawrence, Meigs, Monroe, Noble, Pike, Ross, Scioto, Vinton and Washington counties,” Kasich wrote.
He requested a federal survey of the damaged areas on May 31, and issued a Governor’s Proclamation of State of Emergency on June 6.
“All but one of the 21 counties included in this request are Appalachian counties. Seven are considered distressed, which means that economically, they rank in the worst 10 percent of the nation’s counties and six are considered at-risk, which means they rank between the worst 10 percent and 25 percent of the nation’s counties,” Kasich wrote. “The majority of counties’ population have per capita income between $15,408 and $28,697, which indicates low tax base for regular infrastructure projects much less these high-dollar, disaster-related projects, and severely impact the likelihood that they could fully cover the estimated repair costs.”
He said those factors, coupled with unemployment rates as high as 19.7 percent in some areas, would make it difficult for the affected jurisdictions to effectively recover without federal assistance. In his letter to the president, dated June 15, the governor asked for about $10.8 million from the Public Assistance Grant Program and additional assistance from the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program.
“I have determined that this incident is of such severity and magnitude that the effective response is beyond the capability of the State and the affected local governments and that supplementary federal assistance is necessary,” Kasich wrote to Obama.
Ohio EMA and FEMA were in Scioto County last week and met with 18 local officials to conduct a Preliminary Damage Assessment. More than $3.1 million in response costs and repair costs were recorded from April 1 to present. That period also includes the flash flooding events that occurred in May.
“If FEMA were to have included March costs, too, the total would have been more than $4 million,” said Kim Carver, Scioto County EMA director
Carver said the Ohio and Scioto rivers were above flood stage much of March, prompting backwater flooding issues, and the Scioto River stayed above flood stage for the entire three-month period of March through May.
She said Scioto County was also the only county in the state to have experienced loss of life from the spring weather. A hiker was killed in Shawnee State Forest in March when 76 mph winds swept through and downed a tree onto a tent in which the victim was seeking shelter, and a man died when he was swept away by floodwaters near Franklin Furnace in May.
The governor’s letter was addressed to Obama and sent to FEMA Region Five Administrator Andrew Velasquez in Chicago. The request will be processed and forwarded to the president.
RYAN SCOTT OTTNEY can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 235, or firstname.lastname@example.org.