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Tornado-ravaged counties await federal disaster declaration

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(The Center Square) – State and federal officials are awaiting President Joe Biden’s disaster declaration to help recovery from tornadoes and severe storms that impacted 11 counties in mid-March.

Gov. Mike DeWine, along with Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown and Republican Sen. J.D. Vance, wrote asking for a FEMA presidential disaster declaration to open federal aid for those impacted not already reimbursed by other government programs or private insurance.

“After the recent tornadoes in Indian Lake and the surrounding region, I promised that we would do all we can to support those who lost their homes or businesses, or had their homes or businesses severely damaged, to help them on the road to recovery,” DeWine said.

As part of the FEMA declaration request, DeWine started the process of activating the federal Small Business Administration’s relief programs following a disaster. Low-interest loans to businesses and individuals to cover eligible damages can be made available through this mechanism.

Brown and Vance wrote Biden and FEMA, urging both to act quickly on DeWine’s request.

“Tornados in central Ohio led to significant damage, causing widespread destruction of homes, apartments and businesses,” the letter said. “This damage and aftermath has led to Ohioans losing their lives and several others sustaining serious injuries. The state and local governments in the affected areas do not have the capability to sufficiently respond to this major disaster, and therefore, federal assistance is necessary to supplement recovery efforts.”

Also, DeWine directed cabinet agencies to develop a plan for state-level financial relief programs for individuals and businesses that can be implemented jointly with the Ohio General Assembly.

Three people were killed and dozens injured as eight confirmed tornados swept across Ohio on March 15.

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