FEMA help available for tornado victims; President Trump declares disaster area

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced Tuesday that Ohio has received federal assistance for individuals in 10 counties impacted by tornadoes, severe storms, straight-line winds, flooding, and landslides last month.

President Donald Trump on Tuesday issued a Presidential Disaster Declaration for federal assistance for individuals and businesses after 21 tornadoes touched down during the severe storms that passed through Ohio during the evening of May 27 and early morning of May 28.

>>JUST IN: Small business tornado assistance is coming

Governor DeWine sent a letter to President Trump last week asking for the federal disaster declaration.

“When I spoke with President Trump after these tornadoes, he vowed to provide any assistance he could, and I am grateful that he followed through today on that promise to help those impacted by these storms,” said Governor DeWine. "The Presidential Disaster Declaration will help those working to rebuild their homes and their lives."

The Presidential Disaster Declaration issued for Auglaize, Darke, Greene, Hocking, Mercer, Miami, Montgomery, Muskingum, Perry, and Pickaway counties. In addition to possible low-interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), the declaration opens up the following assistance programs:

* Individual Assistance Program

* Disaster Legal Services Program

* Hazard Mitigation Grant Program

The Presidential Disaster Declaration also now allows the state to apply to for crisis counseling assistance, disaster unemployment assistance, and disaster case management help.

Individuals and businesses impacted from the storms can register for FEMA assistance online at www.disasterassistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-3362 (TTY 1-800-462-7585).

A preliminary damage assessment the first week of June, by FEMA, SBA and the Ohio Emergency Management Agency, identified 942 homes and buildings that were either destroyed or significantly damaged and 837 additional homes and buildings that suffered minor damage or were slightly affected.

Dayton-area Congressman Mike Turner said he was “heartened to see the president follow through” on the emergency declaration.

“Our community suffered devastating damage from the Memorial Day tornadoes and immediately sprung into action, with neighbors helping neighbors and local officials coming together. I hosted top House Republican Kevin McCarthy in Dayton two days after the tornadoes to advance our case for disaster area designation. We toured damage and saw firsthand the kind of federal assistance our community is going to require to rebuild. I also joined with our Senators in sending a letter last week to the President formally requesting a major disaster declaration. I am heartened to see the President follow through on his commitment to Governor DeWine and the people of Ohio,” Turner said.

U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman said the federal funds are “critical” for the region to recover.

“As communities across Ohio continue working to recover from the devastation left behind by last month’s tornadoes, Sen. Portman and I will continue working with FEMA and the state of Ohio to make sure these critical resources get to Ohioans quickly,” said Brown, D-Ohio. “Having seen the damage up close and talked to the families in need, Sen. Portman and I know how important these federal resources are to Ohio.”

“I want to thank FEMA and the Trump administration for swiftly approving this much needed emergency declaration,” said Portman, R-Ohio. “After the tornadoes touched down, I toured some of the damage firsthand and met with first responders and families who are impacted by this tragedy. The damage is unbelievable. I will continue to work with Governor DeWine, Senator Brown and the administration to ensure our communities get the assistance they need.”

FEMA's Individual Assistance Program provides financial help or direct services to those who have necessary expenses and serious needs, according to FEMA's website.

The Hazard Mitigation program helps to reduce the risk of loss of life and property from future disasters, according to FEMA.

>> FEMA tornado damage assessment underway, continues Thursday

Fifteen tornadoes touched down in the Miami Valley on Memorial Day and the morning after. An EF-4 tornado with winds up to 170 mph traveled 20 miles.

>> 15 Memorial Day tornadoes confirmed; EF4 traveled 20 miles, over half-mile wide

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