Ohio chamber steps in as state continues to wait on disaster declaration



(The Center Square) – While federal lawmakers and state officials push the Biden administration for a disaster declaration, the Ohio Chamber of Commerce has stepped in to help businesses in Logan County more than a month after a tornado struck.

The chamber gave emergency relief fund grants to 16 businesses in the area impacted by a March 14 tornado outbreak in the Indian Lake area of the central Ohio communities. More grants are expected in the coming months.

“We aim to support the entire business community and ensure its success,” Ohio Chamber President and CEO Steve Stivers said. “Our goal is to help all small businesses that were impacted by the storms in March, regardless of whether they’re chamber members or not.”

In the meantime, local, state and federal officials continue to await word from the Biden administration on a disaster declaration that Gov. Mike DeWine requested nearly a month ago. DeWine sent a second letter to the Small Business Administration a week ago asking for a rapid disaster declaration for residents, families and businesses impacted by the tornadoes.

“Twenty days have passed, and I have not received a decision on that request,” DeWine wrote in the second letter. “Further, there is no indication that I will receive a decision soon. Therefore, I am requesting a rapid disaster declaration from SBA.”

DeWine said damage assessments conducted by federal, state and local agencies showed a total of 63 homes and businesses in Logan County have uninsured damages, which surpasses the damage threshold necessary to request a disaster declaration from the SBA. Although Logan County is the only county that meets this threshold, impacted counties that are contiguous to Logan County would also qualify for SBA help.

Sens. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and J.D. Vance, R-Ohio, sent a letter nearly a month ago to FEMA, calling on the Biden administration to issue a FEMA disaster declaration in Auglaize, Crawford, Darke, Delaware, Hancock, Licking, Logan, Mercer, Miami, Richland and Union counties.

The request, according to Vance, has not been met.

The two also wrote a second letter Wednesday to support DeWine’s request.

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