Tuesday, June 11th, 2019
Tornado aid groups, volunteers lauded
By William Kincaid
CELINA - City council members spent most of Monday night's meeting saluting a slew of organizations and volunteers who raced to the residents' aid in the aftermath of Memorial Day's E3 tornado that ripped through northwestern Celina.
However, much work lies ahead as city crews are still busy cleaning up city property and tending to the electrical system, city safety service director Tom Hitchcock pointed out.
It was amazing to watch the community step up to help those in need, councilman June Scott said.
"The amount of outpouring of help from people that didn't even know the people they were helping was really phenomenal," Scott said.
Councilors then moved to pass 39 resolutions expressing gratitude to the churches, businesses and political subdivisions from as far away as Coldwater, Michigan, that dispatched help in some form.
They suspended the three public-reading rules and passed the bundle of resolutions as an emergency measure so copies could be sent out as soon as possible.
The resolutions thanked Minster, New Bremen, Jackson Center, Montpelier and Pioneer; and the cities of Napoleon, Piqua, Bryan, St. Marys, Bowling Green, Wapakoneta, Westerville and Coldwater, Michigan, for helping through the American Power-Ohio Mutual Aid Program. AMP is a nonprofit wholesale power supplier and service provider.
Acknowledged for providing street crews were the cities of St. Marys and Van Wert, villages of Coldwater and Fort Loramie, McClean Township and Mercer County and Van Wert County engineers' offices.
The community of Chattanooga and the villages of Coldwater, Montezuma, Mendon, Rockford, St. Henry and Chickasaw were thanked for sending fire departments;
Thanked for sending law enforcement officers were the village of Elida, Ohio State Highway Patrol and Mercer County Sheriff's Office. Contractors Jeff Topp Excavating of New Bremen, Belna Petroleum of Rockford and VTF Excavation, JD Construction, Shinn Brothers and Piper Trucking & Leasing, all of Celina, were thanked for helping.
Gratitude was extended to the cities of St. Marys and Van Wert and the villages of Coldwater, St. Henry, Rockford, Osgood and Ohio City for sending squads to the scene.
Celina First Church of God and St. John Lutheran Church, too, were thanked for helping out.
Councilman Mike Sovinski thanked the Celina First Church of God for stepping up after the tornado. He pointed out the church property was used as an ad hoc emergency staging and recovery headquarters. Officials hope to learn from the situation and not need to depend so much on a church, he said.
Councilman Jason King thanked all those other organizations and volunteers not mentioned in the formal resolutions.
"They don't probably want to be acknowledged, but thank you anyways," he said.
Hitchcock reported that in the wake of a powerful tornado that left one dead and eight injured, city crews from May 27-30, in many cases aided by outside agencies, searched all damaged properties three times, logged 1,300 hours, replaced 35 broken 40-foot poles, straightened 70 poles, replaced 17,000 feet of wire, replaced 28 damaged transformers and hauled 1.68 million pounds of debris and 625 dump truck loads of brush.
Scott asked if city crews would continue removing debris.
"Currently, we are no longer collecting debris that's in the street right-of-ways," Hitchcock replied. "We'll give it a few weeks here to see what insurance does, and if we have some areas that we may need to address - we're dealing with FEMA right now - we'll see if we can't still address those."
"I think it would be the best for the city … that we continue to pick this stuff up as we can instead of having that stuff lay around," Scott said.
Hitchcock said much work lies ahead for city crews who continue to pick up debris on city owned-property and rebuild the electric system.
"We got power on as fast as we could to everybody, but we're now going back and fixing things the way they should be fixed," he explained. "All our guys are still out either cleaning up debris on city property or still working on the electric system."
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