Wednesday, May 15th, 2024

FEMA to open center to assist tornado victims

By Abigail Miller
CELINA - A disaster recovery center has been opened in St. Marys to assist Grand Lake region residents who suffered property damage during the March 14 tornadoes.
Situated in the Fairbanks Center at 272 Jack Oak Point Road, St. Marys, the disaster recovery center is staffed by Federal Emergency Management Agency and U.S. Small Business Administration specialists.
They can help residents apply for federal disaster assistance, upload documents, learn about ways to make their property more disaster resistant and answer questions in person, per a news release.
The center is open 7:30 a.m.-6 p.m. daily through Saturday.     Residents can also apply for disaster relief online at or by phone at 800-621-3362, according to FEMA Specialist Jack Smith.
A pair of tornadoes touched down in Mercer County on the evening of March 14. One travelled about 8 miles before lifting, while the other continued its path well into Auglaize County, per National Weather Service in Wilmington.
The second tornado traversed a 31.9 mile path over the course of 47 minutes from 3 miles north of Botkins in Auglaize County to 3 miles southwest of West Mansfield in Logan County, packing top wind speeds of 155 mph and causing three deaths and 27 injuries.
Of the $1.3 million in FEMA grants approved as of Tuesday, $6,600 was awarded to Auglaize County households and $32,000 to Mercer County households, according to FEMA Media Relations Specialist Gerard Hammink.
"We're only about a week and a half into the two month application period, so these numbers likely will rise," he said.
The Indian Lake area in Logan County was one of the hardest hit. Three people died in the county northwest of Columbus, according to Sheriff Randy Dodds.
Much of the damage was in the villages of Russells Point and Lakeview. The villages are dotted with cottages owned by people who come for fishing and boating.
A disaster recovery center in Logan County will remain open for a longer period of time than the Auglaize County center.
Its hours are 7:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Saturday until further notice at Galilee Lutheran Church, 301 Lincoln Boulevard, Russells Point.
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President Joe Biden earlier this month declared a major disaster in Ohio and authorized federal assistance to supplement state and local recovery efforts in areas affected by the March 14 tornadoes.
Federal assistance will be made available to Auglaize, Mercer, Darke, Crawford, Delaware, Hancock, Licking, Logan, Miami, Richland and Union counties.
Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-interest loans to cover uninsured property losses and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the disaster, per a White House news release.
Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide, according to the release.
For more information on the disaster relief recovery center operation, go to
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