Carver said city, county and township entities turned in damage assessments to the Ohio and Federal Emergency Management Agencies last week in hopes that costs would meet a per capita threshold for the governor to seek a Federal Disaster Declaration.
Carver said the local threshold that has to be met is about $240,000.
Carver said preliminary estimates show double that in costs to respond to the ice storm which left an inch of ice in its wake, downing trees and requiring extensive manpower, equipment and material costs for jurisdictions to provide emergency protective measures to ensure public safety access and access for the thousands without electrical service to be able to obtain fuel and other supplies to sustain their families through the dangerous winter storm.
“Each county that was part of the damage assessment process for the state EMA and the federal EMA met their local thresholds per capita,” Carver told the Portsmouth Daily Times. “Adams County easily met theirs. So did all the river counties that were involved in this, what I would consider a disaster with the ice storm, meet their county level per capita. But what didn’t happen — the state didn’t meet their per capita threshold.”
Sima Merick, Recovery Branch Chief for Ohio Emergency Management Agency said in a written statement Wednesday, “Based on the joint FEMA/state/local preliminary damage assessment conducted the week of Feb. 16 it has been determined that the impact and magnitude of the ice storm event did not meet Federal Declaration criteria. The PDA resulted in damages totaling $9,945,733, which is below FEMA’s state wide per capita threshold of $14,872,613. Although the impact to a local entity following a natural disaster may be great, the state and federal government also have to consider the impact to the entire state when evaluating a possible request for federal assistance.”
Carver said what the local entities were hoping for was a 75-percent reimbursement on what local jurisdictions had in their response costs and their recovery costs from the ice storm.
“But that is not going to happen because the state did not meet their threshold,” Carver said.
Carver said what they had allowed her to track were the emergency protective measures, “but if you would have put in there the long-term road repair type costs and things like that, and the regular time that it took away from other projects, we would have been fairly close to $1 million on that storm,” Carver said. “Now, when you compare that to 2003 it’s nothing like a $10 million disaster, but the economy is significantly worse now.”
Carver said the state threshold used to be around $10 million but had increased since the ice storm of 2003.
Carver said in 2003 federal help was made available to help local government recoup some of their response and recovery costs. The storm of 2003 saw both individual and public assistance programs available through the federal government.
Carver said costs reimbursed to individuals and government was greater than $10 million for that storm.
Carver said hundreds of homes were damaged in that storm and many local roads were closed for days with electrical service outages lasting more than three weeks for some residents.
Carver said the problem now is that local governments are starting the year with less money than they had originally figured in their budget for 2009 which may put some earlier scheduled programs on hold.
Frank Lewis may be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 232.