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Commissioners declare county disaster

Commissioners declared Lawrence County a disaster area Thursday, citing flood damage reports and calling for additional government aid.

Friday, May 25, 2001

Commissioners declared Lawrence County a disaster area Thursday, citing flood damage reports and calling for additional government aid.

"The heavy rains have been harmful in many areas of the county," commission president Paul Herrell said after hearing reports from Lawrence County Emergency Services director Don Mootz.

"We’re declaring a disaster, and hope state or federal agencies will come in and help," Herrell said.

In the wake of that declaration, which calls for damage reports and assistance requests to go through the county’s Emergency Operations Center, the county also sent a letter to the Ohio Emergency Management Agency.

That letter asks for supplemental financial assistance from the State Disaster Relief Program for damage caused by the heavy rainfall and flooding that occurred May 17-22.

Such funding, as well as help from the federal government, hinges on the amount of damage suffered in the county, so county officials are urging all residents and businesses to report any damage.

Reports can be made by calling the Lawrence County EMA at 533-4375.

Thursday’s report by Mootz said the county received, on an average, more than six inches of rain during the period from May 14-May 22. Heavy rainfall amounts or rising floodwaters have affected nearly every area of the county in some way.

Northern parts of the county appear to have been affected the most with both public and private damaged. The Waterloo rain gauge measured 6.67 inches of rain throughout the period. Heavily affected areas include portions of Aid, Decatur, Perry, Symmes, Windsor and Washington townships.

Other townships have reported damage, however, damage assessments are preliminary and ongoing and reports are still coming in.

On May 22, 2001, the county EMA mailed a letter and "Flood Impact Report: Preliminary Damage Assessment" survey form to all county political jurisdictions. The board of commissioners received a copy of this correspondence. Once returned to the EMA office, these surveys will provide a broader snapshot of damages countywide.

According to preliminary damage assessments: at least 16 private residences sustained major to total damage; there was damage to public and private roadways, bridges, culverts, etc.; there were numerous slips affecting roadways; and public utilities – such as water lines – were affected. Total dollar estimates to the damage sustained is not yet available.

Lawrence County EMA also notes damage to at least two churches and to agriculture areas. It was brought to the attention of the EMA that the opening of Township Road 197 East and West, located within sections 1,2,3 and 4 of Aid Township, would establish an emergency exit route/flood exit route from the area and, more importantly, give access to emergency responders.